Wizard World 2016

Wizard World Just Sold Six of Its Largest Conventions to FAN EXPO

The Fan Expo rebranding begins in 2022

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Today, FAN EXPO announced that it’ll be acquiring six of Wizard World’s biggest shows. These shows are the ones that take place in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Portland, St. Louis, and Cleveland.

In a statement made by FAN EXPO HQ, President Aman Gupta had this to say:

“FAN EXPO HQ is devoted to creating unmissable, exceptional fan experiences. 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!”

Wizard Entertainment was founded back in 1991 and was a name I recognized back then thanks to the magazines my dad brought home. They would go on to dip their toes into the convention game in 1997 after buying Chicago Comicon, the second oldest comic event in North America (the first, of course, is SDCC). “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,” said Gupta.

The inclusion of Wizard World gives FAN EXPO 17 conventions in North America, making it the largest comic convention organization in the world. “Every fan, at every single one of our 17 events across North America, will benefit from this game-changing announcement,” said Gupta. “As the largest producer of fan events in the world, we will be able to offer even more exclusive access to superstar talents, international brands, and innovative experiences. 2022 will be the most exciting year in our company’s history, and I know the fans will feel that pride and excitement.”

Gupta and FAN EXPO HQ are expecting to attract nearly 1 million fans in 2022. With 17 shows, that could very well be possible… assuming a certain something doesn’t spawn more variants in the timeline.

Wizard World Chicago is scheduled to take place from October 15 to October 17 this year. This will be the last Chicago event under the Wizard World name, though according to Gamesrader+, Chicago will be the last Wizard World event period. “Wizard World’s sale of its largest shows to Fan Expo is effectively Wizard’s exit from the comic book convention business – at least as an organizer.” As far as when these new conventions will take place in 2022, “Dates and show information for 2022 will be released later this year. Where possible, we are working to maintain the existing date patterns, and intend to remain in existing venues.”

If you look at the events listed on Wizard World’s website, those six cities are all that’s listed. The company has had shows in other cities besides those six throughout the years, but according to Forbes, a successful integration could lead to additional Wizard World shows making the transition.

While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, FAN EXPO HQ Vice President Andrew Moyes said that the agreement with Wizard World came about relatively quickly over the last several months, and additional Wizard World shows could eventually transition into the Fan Expo brand once the company has successfully integrated the first six largest shows.

Forbes also notes that, according to Moyes, FAX EXPO is planning on bringing aboard key Wizard World staff.

Wizard World is a convention name that I’ve come to know for decades. It’s a bit odd to think about there not being one anymore, especially in Chicago since that’s where I grew up. While I personally get a lot of my convention fix via anime cons, Wizard World Chicago always felt like the closest I’d come to experiencing something as grand as SDCC since it was much easier to get to (real talk: it’s in the same convention center as Anime Central, so I knew it like the back of my hand).

Not to sound dramatic on main, but this kinda feels like the end of a convention era. We won’t fully know how this changes things until the rebranding hits in 2022 but I’m curious to see what Gupta means when saying “restoring it to its former glory and beyond.”

What would you like to see come from this acquisition?

(Image: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Wizard World)

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Author
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)