Theater things that don’t make sense: Vol. 1

Today we start a new series identifying some things that are just plain odd.

Not right or wrong, just odd or out-of-balance.

Many of these things are a result of how the business was born, how it’s structured, and who has the power.  Many are archaic “industry standards” (I hate that phrase, BTW.  How can anything be standard in an industry with a failure rate as high as ours?  Obviously the standards suck, so why keep using them?)

Many of these things may never change . . . unless enough of us Producers start jumping up and down all at once and start demanding it.

You guys game?  I thought so.

Ok, here we go . . . volume #1.

Did you know that if you produce a show in any Broadway or Off-Broadway theatre in New York City or any major touring house across the country and want to sell merchandise (t-shirts, CDs, etc.), you will be forced to a pay a commission to the theater owner?  (10%, 15%, even higher in some markets!)

Now, did you know, that in the same contract, you will be told that the theater owner has the right, whether you like it or not, to sell drinks, concessions, etc.. and you get no participation in that, even though it’s your audience buying the $4 Kit Kat and $5 bottled water.

Either give us a piece, or allow us to sell it.  Producers have so few ancillary revenue streams.  If we had more, our risk would be reduced.

Why do you think Steve Wynn can spend $100 million on a show in Las Vegas?  Because he has additional revenue streams that help support it:  hotel rooms, restaurants, souvenirs, and oh, I don’t know, gambling?

We may never get a piece of the bar, but we should never stop searching for additional ways our content can make us money.

  • Braden Chapman says:

    If Grease can make their patrons buy their beer and soda in special (I’m sure expensive) GREASE cups with the logo on the side, everyone can. Besides its free advertising to anyone who sees the cup after and furthers brand establishment.

  • Hey Ken,
    I’m totally playing devil’s advocate here. Based on how you present this argument, if I were a theater owner, or presenter, I would ask you why I should care about a producer having ancillary revenue streams? It kind of comes across as “waah, waah.” I don’t know that this particular industry double standard regarding concessions can become more equitable until there is a shift in the supply of shows, versus the current demand for theaters. It seems that in both New York and on the road that there is more product than spaces to put the product in, and that the competition for venues is fierce. If/when theater owners and presenters need producers more than producers need them is when I believe producers will come closer to having the kind of leverage it would take to alter this.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas as always…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *