FAN EXPO CANADA returned this weekend in Toronto, running from August 24-27, 2023 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The event, known as Canada’s largest comic, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event draws fans from all around the world to celebrate their love of genre, a chance to meet their idols and also connect with others who are equally passionate about their fandoms.
The weekend saw large crowds and long queues, making those years impacted by the pandemic seem like a distant memory. While most autograph sessions, photo ops, Tattoo Alley and vendors took-up the North Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the South Building saw an even larger focus on Artist Alley, an area where Artists were line-up and ready to meet their fans, giving them an opportunity to order commissioned pieces. Cosplay was out of this world and even more next-level than ever before!
Despite the SAG-AFTRA strike putting Hollywood at a standstill right now, many of the celebrity guests at the event observed guidelines that paid respect to the Union, while balancing this still with a chance to not disappoint their eager fans. Names like Zachary Levi, Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Harvey Guillén, Anthony Michael Hall, Christie Brinkley, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Jason Lee, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Christina Ricci and Hayden Christensen, came out to raise the event’s profile doing autograph signings, photo ops and panels. Big draws like Millie Bobby Brown, Chevy Chase, Danny Trejo and Sam Raimi also were among the names originally scheduled but had to cancel in the weeks leading to the event.
And this year there was a more female-led presence more than ever before. Is this the Barbie effect?
There were more activations than ever before with several streaming services setting-up fun, interactive experiences for attendees, giving them a chance at photo ops and prizes!
PRIME VIDEO CANADA
Guests at this activation received free Prime Video-branded reusable bags and chances to get photo ops celebrating the launch of GEN V (a spinoff of their top-rated series The Boys), Invincible and The Wheel of Time. Fans were even given a chance to screen the first episode of the latter’s second season this past weekend.
Lots of fun skill-testing activities for a shot at prizes from their Prize Booth at their STACKTV CARNIVAL! Ringing-in the launch of the upcoming new seasons of SURVIVOR, RICK AND MORTY, CHUCKY and original series ROBYN HOOD!
Highlighting current theatrical release TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM, plus popular series like TWISTED METAL, YELLOWSTONE and SPONGEBOB, guests got to enjoy fun photo ops celebrating these titles. There was even an mini refrigerator inspired by TWISTED METAL being given away!
STAR WARS: AHSOKA streams now on the service and some really cool pieces from the Series were put in display, including the very adorable Loth-Cat. Guests also got to put themselves into an interactive 360 cam video.
This Anime and Manga streaming giant make their first foray north, debuting at Fan Expo Canada this year! If you love Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z, this is the service for you!
With big releases planned ahead, a displays promoting EXPEND4BLES, HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES and SAW X, were seen. Costume pieces from the former designed by Academy Award nominee Trish Summerville, were proudly showcased.
In addition to taking over Summer 2023 with a McFlurry and special limited edition Happy Meal toys at McDonald’s, Squishmallows have us obsessed. An activation with fun games was very popular, people playing for a chance to win one of these treasured toys.
Too much cuteness at this Cat Bus photo op, allowing guests to hop into the busy for photo ops with their loved ones.
In addition to many vendors selling hard-to-find merchandise and memorabilia, some familiar retailers set-up show also in the South Building.
Uniqlo Canada currently has a T-Shirt collection inspired by popular Manga “BLEACH” and these were available for purchase.
We love Retrokid and their love for all things nostalgic to us. They even had some pieces on-sale at Fan Expo Canada! Did you know that Scarborough’s Emmy-winning voice chameleon Eric Bauza is a Co-Founder?
Team Mr. Will had the pleasure of sitting-in on some the key panels over the weekend and here are the highlights!
The Cast of this beloved franchise came out to speak at a panel amidst guidelines that paid respect to SAG-AFTRA strike guidelines. Appearing at the Panel were Neve Campbell, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich and Jamie Kennedy.
Before the Cast came out on-stage, certain house rules were laid-out:
-During the strike, there will be no questions about any work those on the panel have done. This goes for every panel.
-That means that for the Scream panel, the Cast cannot mention any work they did on the franchise.
-Due to this, they will answer more personal questions and talk about the industry.
-Only fan questions previously selected from social channels would be asked.
Some highlights and quotes from the Panel:
“You know we have a strike going on. It’s lovely to be at this…insurance convention.” — Jamie Kennedy
“It’s really humbling…you have these moments coming out to beautiful groups of people…we really appreciate you guys” — Matthew Lillard (on coming to Fan Expo)
“I love seeing Ghostface out there!” — Neve Campbell (to the one fan cosplaying as Ghostface)
The Cast comment on what makes them scared in real life: “American politics” — Matthew Lillard “Religious horror…the exorcist” — Skeet Ulrich “The original exorcist but also being at home” — Jamie Kennedy “Anything with kids” — Neve Campbell
On Director Wes Craven, the Cast had nothing by glowing praise about the late Director.
-“He was just so calm. He set a president. A calm beautiful inclusive demeanour…he was like ‘never be scared to ask a director for another take and don’t be scared to ask a question'” – Jamie Kennedy
-“The essence of him. He had a psychological curiosity about all his characters. He was incredibly supportive of not just the actors but everyone around him to being his vision to life” –Skeet Ulrich
-“He had a wonderful twisted sense of humour…you’d do a take this very violent take and all you’d hear after cut was him giggling in glee … he was a wonderful wonderful person and I miss him” -Neve Campbell
-Craven once told Matthew Lillard that he would win an Academy Award one day and he told his mother that on the phone while on set…”I didn’t know how I was going to feed my kids…for me that moment resonates very deeply when I feel the worst” – Matthew Lillard
Jon Bernthal Panel
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil, The Bear, King Richard) has been to the City prior for TIFF and comments what he thinks of Toronto: “I’ve come here for the film festival a couple of times and shot something here. I wrote something here and I got a lot of really cool work. I accredit that to really cool people. Good people. Good energy.”
On method acting: “When you think about there are just sacred seconds between action and cut. For me, being the monkey with the makeup on saying the line…You need to start warding off things that are distractions and keep your energy. I don’t need anyone to call me by a different name. I just need to kneel at the alter of the project and the story.”
On advice he would give himself when he was starting out: “Don’t feel like you gotta bleed out for this thing. Don’t grind so hard. But the truth is the journey is our journey.”
Christina Ricci Panel
Ricci (Sleepy Hollow, Wednesday, Yellowjackets) would field only audience questions, navigating strike guidelines with aplomb.
-“I had a difficult childhood home life. There’s a lot of abuse in my family so being an actor for me was an escape. So when people ask me how you survived the industry I’m like how the fuck do you survive life. I’m still a person who struggles and a person who’s finding their way. The best thing is to surround yourself by genuinely good people or no one at all”
On what she’s stolen from sets:
-“I’ve stolen knickknacks. Really comfy warm clothes. I occasionally get really good socks. But nothing anyone else would find impressive.”
On advice to her young self or new actors:
-“Your biggest asset is individuality. There’s no point in being good at what others are really good at. Focus on what you can do that others can’t do.”
Cosplayers at Fan Expo Canada continue to up their game every year and this year was exactly this. See some of the amazing, innovative looks!
Don’t forget to download the Fan Expo App for all updates and to best plan your next experience at Fan Expo!
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong/Amanda Gilmore)