Wizard World profits fall 50% in first half of the year

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Citing both a decline in convention attendance and the number of shows, Wizard World’s latest SEC filings show a 50% drop in revenue for the first half of the year. ICv2 has helpfully waded through all the filings to give the most relevant info.

Sales declined 49% in Q2 compared to the same quarter last year, and the company had an operating loss of $1.9 million, compared to a $475,000 operating profit in Q2 2016.

Most of the sales decline was in the company’s convention revenue, which dropped due to a decline in the number of events, and to declining attendance at the remaining shows.  The company produced five shows in the quarter vs. seven in Q2 2016.  The more concerning decline was in revenue per show, which was down 27% from $1.4 million per show in 2016 to $987,000 per show in 2017.

Wizard showed a loss of  $2.2 million in Q2 compared to a profit of $400,000 in Q1.

For those who want to make their own studies you can read the latest filing here.  One little tidbit that the ICv2 report does not mention: Wizard did have a decrease in operating expenses, which it attributes to:

enhanced operating efficiency, a decrease in employee compensation and general and administrative expenses offset by a slight increase in consulting expenses. The $176,259 decrease in compensation is primarily attributable to a decline in both headcount and officer compensation. General and administrative expenses decreased by $244,518 since the prior three months’ comparative period due in part to tighter controls.

Which sounds prudent – tightening the ship and officers maybe taking a pay cut to keep the ship afloat? But later on, under “Legal Proceedings:”

Malinoff Dispute

Randall Malinoff, the Company’s former Chief Operating Officer, who departed from on the Company as of July 5, 2017, is currently engaged in a dispute with the Company. The dispute pertains to his departure from the Company. Both Mr. Malinoff and the Company have retained counsel to engage on the issues in controversy.

Oops! Perhaps not everyone was on board with those savings in operating expenses.

According to the filing on Malinoff’s hiring he was paid $150K a year and was hired to run the Wizard World Concert Series, which was supposed to involves moving into more entertainment-oriented events. I think that initiative has been dead in the water for a while.

Wizard did recently announce their return to the publishing business with a quarterly digital magazine and a daily video .  I’d imagine that Brian Walton and Luke Y. Thomspon have to be adequately compensated for those efforts, so some investment there, but in a crowded area where success is hard won.

I’m not sure where all of this leaves Wizard. Their new strategy is to go into smaller, cheaper venues like Biloxi, MS. They’ve lost a lot of their marquee celebs to other entites, and when I ask most comics folk if they will go to Wizard shows, they reply with some variation of “Fuck, no!”  

Wizard World Chicago is underway as I write, and I see several of my pals are there, and Danny Fingeroth has done his usual good job of putting together panels and so on, but aside from around 20 people or so, the artist alley roster is mostly locals who don’t have much of a national profile. I’m not sure why comics pros hate Wizard shows so much, to be honest, but years of resentment seem to have built up, so it will take a major charm offensive to win them back.

If your head spins from the filings, here’s the bit about revenue and conventions:

>>>>Convention revenue was $4,936,084 for the three months ended June 30, 2017, as compared to $9,507,647 for the comparable period ended June 30, 2016, a decrease of $4,571,563. The decrease in revenue is primarily attributable to a reduced number of shows run as well as lower attendance at the shows. The Company produced five events during the three months ended June 30, 2017, as compared to seven events during the comparable three months ended June 30, 2016. Average revenue generated per event during the three months ended June 30, 2017 was $987,217 as compared to $1,358,235 during the comparable period in 2016.

We plan on continuing to enhance our Comic Conventions by featuring a broader array of attractions and an enhanced mix of celebrity talent. Further, we are carefully researching and identifying new geographic markets for our Comic Conventions. It is the intention of the Company to continue to increase top line revenue in 2017 by adding additional conventions, on a touring basis, and by employing more sophisticated techniques to market those conventions. It is also the intention of the Company to continue to employ methods to reduce operating costs. 

Concurrently with the Company’s stepped-up efforts in the Comic Convention business, the Company issued a Press Release on August 16, 2017 announcing that it is entering the digital media space. The Company, through the creation of WizPop (a daily news service) and the re-introduction of a digital version of Wizard Magazine, the Company intends to greatly expand its creation of compelling video and editorial content, reaching fans via social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as the Company’s website, www.wizardworld.com. It is anticipated that the creation and distribution of text and video editorial content will begin during August 2017. The company believes that it occupies a desirable space in the realm of live and digital platforms.

The Company is also actively exploring other business opportunities that may, or may not come to fruition: Such initiatives may include international digital distribution opportunities, especially in Asia, as well as opportunities for the international production of live events. Concurrently, the Company is looking at the feasibility of creating a fixed installation that will be used for the creation of content and the sales of merchandise. Finally, the Company is exploring combinations, mergers and acquisitions with third party entities to work together on marketing, e-commerce, merchandising and branding initiatives.

We currently expect to produce 22 live events during 2017, although that number of conventions may change as we evaluate locations and venues.

 

 

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. This is the end result of Wizard largely abandoning comics in favor of a generalized pop culture presentation. It probably seemed like a smart idea in the early to mid 2000s when the comic biz looked like it was swirling the bowl, but pop culture shows are much more complicated and expensive to produce than comic cons.

    Mike

  2. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a “comic pro”, but I’ve been doing cons for over 10 years now. Wizard World Chicago was the first con that I had an Artist Alley space at. I don’t do Wizard shows any more, even though one of the bigger ones is a half hour from where I live.

    My guess why a lot of pros don’t want to do Wizard shows any more is that the shows are “comic cons” in name only. Comics feel like the last thing Wizard thinks of at their shows. With their celebrity focus, it brings in a different crowd. Those people are there for autographs and photo ops. There’s nothing wrong with that. But do those same people give a damn about the guy who writes or draws Batman? Some people do, but most people don’t.

    So why do a show where the majority of the audience doesn’t know or care about your work?

    At least when I first started doing the Wizard shows, it felt more comics focused. The people there liked and read comics, both attendee and exhibitor wise. At a Wizard show now, it’s not uncommon to find exhibitors that have nothing to do with comics. How does Bathfitters relate to comics in any way? The reason they’re there is that they were willing to pay X amount of dollars for a 10×10 space. That’s it. (I assume the reason you see a lot of that at Wizard shows is they’ve rented out convention halls that are too big and are backfilling those spaces with whoever’s got the cash.)

    At the Wizard show I went to recently, I went out to the vendors to try to find recent comics. I came back empty handed. The people actually selling comics were few and far between and it was hard to find them because the layout was convoluted.

    If Wizard wants to keep calling themselves a “comic con”, there’s nothing to stop them. It’s certainly a better marketing term than “autograph show”. But like I said before, Wizard cons are “comic cons” in name only.

  3. I can’t really speak for the national con scene but in the Nashville area it seems like it is getting oversaturated with the same type of conventions. June was Walker Stalker, July was Heroes and Villains, Sept is Wizard World and it is the weekend after many people go to Atlanta for Dragon Con. Not to mention this is Haunted House season that will generally host a few celebrities and there is a decent sized Tattoo / Horror expo in late October as well as the flagship Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta. You cant just go to a con with a few hundred bucks and meet everyone anymore. Many celebrities are charging more for their autograph than what they well ever sell for on the secondary market. A quick selfie type photo should not cost $50. Everything for sale is limited edition or premium grade for manufactured rarity and stupid high prices. I think the system is thinning out fan resources and they are starting to give up.

  4. Cons are expensive. Even with the decreased ticket prices, it’s hard to justify spending so much money on these conventions. Smaller cons have charm and are more personal. I refuse to pay any celeb $40 or $80 for an autograph and a photo. This years Wiz World in Des Moines was a much smaller crowd. I think it’s like a “I did that” for a large part of the population. If you’re gonna bring in celebs, bring in a few huge celebs and don’t forget the comic book dealers and artists. Iowa’s Midwest comic Con has been growing for years but now I think they need to scale back. The Iowa ICon is back and I enjoy the smaller cons.

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