And just like that, the Wizard World convention empire evaporates into another corporation’s portfolio.
Fan Expo HQ announced Tuesday that it has acquired six major Wizard World conventions — Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Portland, St. Louis and Cleveland. Each will be branded “Fan Expo” next year, starting with the Chicago 2022 convention. Wizard World will still participate in the Fan Expo dates and operate the Wizard World Vault. Also, some of Wizard World’s smaller convention dates may end up part of Fan Expo’s calendar after the transition of the six major cons.
“We’re beyond thrilled to be able to offer that to fans in six new locations, and pleased that Wizard World recognized our ability to elevate guest experience to the next level. We’re looking forward to getting to know each of these individual communities, learn what they’re looking for, and raise the bar! Fan Expo HQ President Aman Gupta said in a statement. “Personally, I’m eager to contribute to the incredible legacy of the Chicago event, the second oldest comic event in North America (1972), and restore it to its former glory and beyond.”
The move effectively ends the era of Wizard World’s regional convention circuit with its sometimes questionable quality, dealer floors, photo ops, and other assorted activities. An outgrowth of Wizard Magazine, the convention operator entered the market in the 1990s, but was sold to another proprietor roughly 15 years later.
As Forbes notes, the acquisition of the Wizard World dates gives Fan Expo a “stranglehold on the North American market.” It also proves the regional circuit has plenty to offer, especially as pent-up energy to go to a convention remains high. Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic not yet over, it remains to be seen how viable the fan convention will be in 2022.