In a somewhat surprising but welcome move, Reed Exhibitions, the company that presents New York Comic-Con, New York Anime Festival, Book Expo America and the new Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) in Chicago announced today that they will be combining New York Comic-Con and New York Anime Festival into one mega show on October 8 - 10, 2010 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
According to the press release that was sent out today, the combined 2010 New York Comic-Con and New York Anime Festival will take up almost the entire Javits Center. (Past New York Comic-Cons have booked about 1/3 - 1/2 of the center, New York Anime Festival typically uses 1/3 - 1/4 of the exhibit space). While the shows will maintain separate programming schedules and guest lists, they will share exhibit floor spaces. Best of all, attendees will be able to attend both shows for the cost of one admission pass. All in all, a win-win situation for fans and exhibitors alike. As an added bonus, the show will be held in early October, a time when the Big Apple enjoys some of the most pleasant weather of the year.
As recently as last week, Lance Fensterman, Vice President of the Reed Exhibitions Pop Culture Group mentioned that New York Comic-Con and New York Anime Festival would be held as separate events with dates two weeks apart. In an interview published in Publishers' Weekly, Fensterman pondered the feasibility of running two major shows so close together. "Next year, New York Anime Fest and New York Comic-Con will be two weeks apart. We need to play off the two shows' strengths," said Fensterman. What a difference a week makes, as today's press release has Fensterman explaining this move to combine the two shows.
"Our decision to co-locate NYAF with NYCC is the final installment of a strategic plan to place and sequence our pop culture events in a manner that best serves the needs of our fans and exhibitors." notes Fensterman. "We are launching the Chicago Comic and Entetainment Expo (C2E2) in April 2010, and we have moved NYCC to a permanent October date, thus providing a Spring and Fall balance to these two key events which will remain in place as we move forward."
"Rather than create a third date for NYAF, it was decided a co-location would be better for anime fans, professionals, exhibitors, and partners. We spoke to attendees and exhibitors of both shows before making this decision, and everyone agrees that this will provide an opportunity for both shows to further grow and prosper."
One interesting observation that Fensterman made in the Publishers' Weekly interview was that while New York Anime Festival pre-registration numbers were "solid" at "about 20-25% ahead of last year's ticket sales at the same point," anime fans come to "hang out," but don't seem to generate the kind of revenues that would make the show more worthwhile for more publishers and larger exhibitors to book exhibit space. When asked about the manga publisher presence at New York Anime Festival, Fensterman had this to say:
"It is minimal. Del Rey has been a big supporter and they continue to be a big supporter. We have a few anime vendors. Anime shows are more of a lifestyle event, about buying DVDs, books, apparel and toys. People really come to hang out. The fan base is strong, but the question is finding a way to monetize it."
A quick glance at the New York Anime Festival exhibitor list confirms this. Del Rey Manga, Vertical and Media Blasters will be in the exhibit hall, but that's it, as far as manga publishers go. VIZ Media has a panel on Sunday morning, but that's possibly partly because they're co-presenting the entire 20th Century Boys movie trilogy and other anime showings.
With a tight economy to contend with, Reed Exhibitions has likely figured out that combining New York Anime Festival with New York Comic-Con might make it more appealing for more publishers, game and anime companies to put some of their marketing budget toward exhibiting at next year's shows. This move also takes into account fans' budgets too, as many opt to focus their travel budgets on larger shows that offer lots of big name guests and more bang for the buck (like San Diego Comic-Con or Anime Expo) rather than attend smaller events.
Meanwhile, New York Anime Festival 2009 is looking to be a pretty solid show, with lots of attractions, events and special guests to make checking out this event worthwhile. Besides special guests like Yoshiyuki Tomino (the director of the original Gundam), the voice cast for Soul Eater, singer Yui Makino and musical acts AKB48, Echostream and Kokusyoku Sumire, New York Anime Festival is also featuring an exclusive boutique featuring the latest fashions from sweet Lolita fashion house Baby the Stars Shine Bright, and the U.S. World Cyber Games finals and something they're calling the "Cosplay Dating Game." Also on the schedule are showings of all three 20th Century Boys films, Cencoroll, Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone and Gurren Lagann: The Movie.
There's still time to beat the lines and pre-register online to attend this show on Friday, September 25 - Sunday, September 27. Friday passes are $35, Saturday passes are $40, Sunday passes are $35, and Weekend passes are $55. Plus, if you register online, you'll get a free 2-week trial membership to Crunchyroll.com.
See what you missed last year in the 2008 New York Anime Festival Photo Gallery. Can't make it this year? No worries -- I'll be there checking out the scene and taking photos -- Lots and lots of photos!
UPDATE: Fensterman has posted more comments about the decision to combine New York Anime Festival with New York Comic-Con in 2010 and explains why the two shows will be separate yet together at their official blog MediumatLarge.net.
© Reed Exhibitions, © Deb Aoki