Beleaguered comic book convention promoter Wizard World has had a real roller coaster ride of a year. Last November, Bleeding Cool reported that the company was set to run out of money in 2017, but a sizeable cash injection from Wizard World Executive Chairman Paul Kessler allowed the company to live to fight another day.
Meanwhile, there was the massive lawsuit fiasco with the Shamus family to keep spectators entertained, and the company posted a big Q1 loss to kick off the month of June. But they also launched a Wizard World Hall of Fame, inducting the great Sir Robert Liefeld as its inaugural member. But just this week, former Wizard World CEO John Macaluso announced that he's launched his own competing comic con company, Fandemic, after dropping 8.5 million shares in Wizard World stock last year. Can't Wizard World catch a break?!
Now, in the latest press release from Wizard World, we get to experience the highs and lows in one convenient location. Starting with the bad news, Wizard has canceled its upcoming shows in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Orlando, Florida, and will give automatic refunds to anyone who purchased tickets already. There's no reason given for the cancellation of the shows, but it might be worth noting that the New Mexico show was set to take place from July 14 to July 16, the weekend before San Diego Comic Con. The Orlando show would have taken place from August 11 to August 13, just two weeks after Florida hosts both Tampa Bay Comic Con and Florida Supercon.
So is Wizard World beating a strategic retreat… or is this more of a regrouping?
Shows in Columbus, Ohio (August 4-6), Chicago (August 24-27), Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 8-10), Madison, Wis. (Sept. 22-24), Oklahoma City (Oct. 27-29) and Austin, Texas (Nov. 17-19) will go on as planned, according to the company, and Wizard World will announce more shows in September, bringing the total number of shows this year up to 20, which is actually one more than last year, though still down from 25 in 2015. But perhaps the most shockingly optimistic news of all is that Wizard says they will double the number of shows they announce for 2018, though there's no details given on where they intend to expand to.
With Wizard World recently, every positive announcement has been seemingly paired with an equally impactful negative one. Is this huge planned expansion a sign that Wizard is turning things around? Or should we be waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Time will tell.