So much is going on in the con world right now. I don’t want to call it Con Wars yet, but the competition for guests, venues, vendors and fans is getting fierce as more and more people enter the space.
And some old time players are revising their approach. Wizard World just announced they have cancelled their Albuquerque, N.M. (July 14-16) and Orlando, Fla. (August 11-13) conventions. Orlando will be rescheduled for a later date. However they promise “changes to its pop culture convention calendar for the remainder of 2017, with the addition of several new shows in September, October and November (dates, cities and venues to be announced).”
While what those new shows will be wasn’t announced, word on the street is that Wizard is talking about holding as many as 40 shows next year – the pr promises to double their roster of 20 shows this year. Vendors are being told the new shows will be in smaller cities without their own major comic con-type events.
I’ve heard speculation that these would be more hotel-based shows as opposed to convention centers and arenas. Whatever it is, the revised schedule will be announced next month.
Announced Wizard World shows for the rest of 2017 include:
Columbus, Ohio (August 4-6)
Chicago (August 24-27)
Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 8-10)
Madison, Wis. (Sept. 22-24)
Oklahoma City (Oct. 27-29)
Austin, Texas (Nov. 17-19)
This brings the number of WW shows in 2017 to 20, up from last year, even with the cancellations. The Albuquerque show was the week before San Diego, and that would be tough for anyone. Orlando already has well established shows and is considered a tough market. Refunds for ticket sand photo ops and autographs will be sen tout automatically.
Wizard is in an odd place right now. The shows have changed a lot under new management with a more showbizzy environment such as bands and loud music playing during shows – a change that artist alley exhibitors don’t appreciate, and which was toned down after it debuted.
WW president and CEO John Maatta has been active in reaching out to fans – his cel phone number is posted at the entrance to shows, and I’ve seen people on social media praising him for handling issues with a hands on approach. But I’ve also seen people annoyed about all the things people are traditionally annoyed at Wizard shows and no sign of them ending.
Wizard is a public company and you can read all their financials on the Investor relations page. In the first quarter, 2017, the company had a next operating loss of $1,282,078, but a cash influx from investor The Bristol Investment Fund has filled the coffers.
Wizard World Chicago is still one of the biggest cons in the US, and it’s coming up August 24-27. By then we should have a much clearer idea of where Wizard is going with its ambitious expansion plans.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.