Movies down. Broadway up.

I’ll admit it, sometimes I get a little jealous of our sister industry out there in La-La Land.  After all, it’s easy to think that Hollywood’s older but smaller brother known as Broadway has it a lot tougher in today’s economic and cultural market.

But do we?

According to the end of year figures released from Tinseltown, they’ve got trouble with a capital B that stands for Box Office.

According to this NY Times article, Hollywood’s gross box office receipts are down $500 mil, or about 4.5%.  And attendance has dropped a gruesome 5.3%, which, combined with the 6% drop the industry saw in 2010, equals a double digit drop that makes our recent attendance woes seem trivial.

A 10% drop in attendance in 2 years?  Somebody should lose their job over that.

Why the decline?  There are a lot of reasons, of course, and I’m not an expert on the business of film.  But from a bird’s-eye view, I chalk it up to a lack of scarcity.  Movies are everywhere now.  You can download, stream, rip, drip just about anything . . . . on your TV, laptop, iPhone, iPad, kneepad . . . whenever, wherever.  The two dimensional form of entertainment is here in abundance.  The market is saturated.

You know what isn’t everywhere?

Broadway.  Live entertainment.  First class, limited seating, a different experience every night, theater.

Sure, all of the things I just mentioned above are the same things that make our industry so challenging.  But they are also what make it more rare.

And maybe, just maybe, the unfortunate decline in the stock price of Hollywood means that what we’re selling is on the way up.

I’m bullish Broadway.  The Producer’s Perspective says:  Strong Buy.


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  • Chris says:

    Just found your blog via Zite on my iPad and I’m loving it. I know we’re heading into the post tourist slump for shows now, why don’t they do more to appeal to locals like me and why don’t they do more online with flash sales and emails? I would seem plays 3-4 times a month but they make it so hard to buy tickets. I don’t mind paying a fair price but is $150+ a seat the real cost? Must be it is since most shows don’t recoup?

  • WendyWriter says:

    Your point is well-taken, as far as it goes. But there is another reason people don’t go to the movies: it has become unpleasant. Ads. People talking and texting. Cell phones going off.
    The scary thing is that going to the theatre becomes less pleasant with each passing year. Many people just can’t seem to keep their mouths closed. And people text. And cell phones go off.
    But even worse, some producers are supporting bad audience behavior by allowing, even encouraging, people to bring drinks and food into the theatre. One person with ice clinking in a cup/glass can do a lot of damage to the enjoyment of a lot of people.
    I feel that this new trend shows disrespect for the audience, the actors, the playwright, and everyone else involved in the endeavor.

  • Thomas Cott says:

    Did you happen to see this article from last week — “Can struggling Hollywood ride Broadway’s coattails?”

  • Dan says:

    You don’t have much of an idea of how audiences have historically “behaved” in theatres, do you? Even to this day it is tradition to eat ice cream at intermission and into the second act at theatres in London. While cell phones and other tech gadgets may be distracting, we shouldn’t forget that theatre is a communal experience and that the living, breathing, coughing audience is just as much a part of it as the self-important actors.
    Study your theatre history, kids.

  • musicwriter says:

    I agree Wendy. I recently sat in front of a woman in a movie theatre who was slowly tearing off her candy bar wrapper in an
    attempt to be unnoticed! I wanted to turn around around and yell, “RIP IT OFF ALREADY”.

  • Dquinn711 says:

    I think I saw 1 film this year—but I forgot which one; sorry…
    99% can support “organized labor” by Daniel P Quinn
    Daniel P. Quinn, Author of ‘organized labor’ (AuthorHouse), interviewed on National Public Radio Broadcast and 4 stars on Daniel P Quinn’s ……/99-can-support-organized-labor-by-Danie...

  • Brian Hajjar says:

    I totally agree. Going to see a movie will never compare to seeing a live performance. Live theatre is the true companion to the “suspension of disbelief.” Movies just can’t bring that particular experience to the table. Also, due to the internet and all that it offers, movies can be found anywhere (and for any price). You can’t find a live broadway performance on there.. haha. There is nothing like live theatre!

  • says:

    I just spent several days in NY attending a few shows. The holidays were making me feel good, but looking at the broadway marquees cause me to find out why I love NY so much… is the optimism which is posted in 12″ lighted neon lettering on the marquees of theatres telling us …..”it is a triumph”..”its two hours of happiness”….It is on the critics must see list.” If this optimism could spell over into society in general, I believe our problems would be less taxing.
    Bavo Brodway for movin ahead.

  • John Kunich says:

    If I craved an entertainment experience that features the forced foreplay of at least 15 minutes of brain-numbing ads, followed by a pre-fab unchanging product predictably formulated to pander to the lowest common abominator of the adolescent market segment, then movies would be the no-brainer choice. But as for me and my house, we prefer the white-hot joy of watching, responding to, and celebrating live human beings as they create a unique, unrepeatable performance afresh and anew, every single day. Broadway bullish while Hollywood goes bear hunting? Go figure.

  • Bryan David says:

    Dear Mr. Davenport, et al:
    As I’m am sure you are well aware (Image me preaching to Thee Producer of Broadways BIGGEST revival: “GODSPELL”)1/3 of LaLa’s film is/was Broadway ‘HIT’ musicals. (Can you say built in audience?) The last Broadway ‘Hit’ Musical to make it film was, “Chicago” The Late great Lyricist; Mr. Fred Ebb & Composer, Mr. John Kander’s show. For those of ‘us’ that follow/care about these credits; it was also the last Musical to win for ‘Best -Picture’ among other accolades.
    However LaLa Land has done something it had NEVER done before. It gave us two (2) films that (at the time) were NOT ‘Hit” Broadway Musicals; The Drama, “Other People’s Money’ (sounds like your line of work kind Sir!) and yes the Off-Broadway Musical (since the film, it DID run the boards of The Great White-Way) “Little Show of Horrors”
    I say (type) this only because it gives me hope. Hope that I may; (by the power’s that be) find Thee Producer with vision(and/or his or her assistant say one, Ms. Caplow) to see/hear the potential of any one (or more!) of the dozen of the Two-Act Musicals I have written the Book & Lyrics for:
    “Wilde About Me!” ©
    The Life, Loves & Lawsuits
    Oscar Wilde! ™
    Featuring the 1st single:
    “Dance With The Devil” ©
    © Copyright 2010 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved
    As well as the GOTHIC Musical surprise:
    “Whitechapel” ©
    The Life & Times
    ‘Jack The Ripper’
    A Musical Love Story! ™
    © Copyright 1996/2007 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved
    Next year is the year I have set my sights on meeting Both The One & Only Mr. Davenport and his right hand, Ms. Caplow. “I have dreams that reach passed the sky.”
    Your Playwright & Lyricist in waiting,
    Bryan David

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