Producer Of Young Frankenstein Make Boo-Boo.

After getting a few public spankings from co-producer Mel Brooks last week, Robert Sillerman admitted that the monster-sized ticket price of $450 was a mistake.

He cited the critical backlash (Brantley mentioned the $450 in the 2nd paragraph of his review) as well as public perception that all tickets were $450 as a few of the repercussions of his poor judgement.

I could have told him that was going to happen.

These were the same problems that The Producers faced when they announced their sky-high prices seven years ago, which begs the question . . . how could he make this mistake?

In 1990, my high school baseball team was playing its biggest rival, Pingree (eww).  We were down by one run in the 9th inning.  One of my best friends, Jim O’Connor, was on third base.  During some kind of distraction, Jim tried to steal home.  It took us all by surprise, but there he was, tearing towards home plate, trying to tie up the game.

He got thrown out in an ultra close call.  We lost.

My coach got frustrated, looked at Jimmy questionably, and then said to his assistant, “Why the &#$^ did he do that?”  The assistant spit out a sunflower seed and said, “If he would have made it, he would have been a hero.”

Jimmy was a great athlete.  He knew baseball and he knew his skills.  He surveyed the scene, and made a decision . . . which unfortunately for us, turned out to be the wrong one.

Robert Sillerman was almost a hero too.  Can you imagine how much faster the show would have recouped with those $450 tickets if YF had been received as well as The Producers?

But Sillerman got called out at home.

So what.  It happens all the time.  People make mistakes.  Robert Sillerman is an incredible business man, and even incredible business men who run multi-billion dollar companies make mistakes.

And so will you.  You’ll make a lot of them.  You’ll produce a bad show, you’ll hire the wrong person, and yes, you’ll price something incorrectly.

This business is not about not making a mistake.  You just have to to make sure you make more right decisions than wrong ones.  Producing is cumulative.  People don’t judge you by one decision or one show.  If they did, this guy would be in big trouble.  Look at how long his first show ran.  Then look at the success of his last three.

As much as I disagreed with Sillerman charging $450/ticket, I’ve got to to give him credit.  He made a mistake but owned up to it (and Mel should spend more time writing better shows than pointing his finger at others).

Who knows, when Blazing Saddles opens, he may want $1000/ticket.

Hopefully he’ll hire me as a consultant before he does.

And hopefully I won’t make a mistake.

  • Kevin McGowan says:

    Note that the $450 premium ticket price isn’t changing for YF, per the Variety article. The tone sounded more like, “We are sorry you were offended by these prices.” It seems like they are trying to work the PR machine to get some good attention toward the show while still keeping their much-maligned price structure in place.
    While they report in the article that the premium/premier seats only make up about 250 of the total 1800 seats NOW, I think they started out with much more of the house priced at that level (from online board reports, which one must always take with a grain of salt). The real info I want to know is how long it will take them to recoup, if they do. THEN we shall see how effective the pricing strategy really was.

  • OldBetty says:

    Okay Ken, I had to go back here a week or so… I’ve been running around like a mad woman, trying to remember… thining “what in God’s name does this remind me of.” Then it hit me- turn to page 39 of Influence.

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