One way to get audiences to come back.

One of the most fun and educational initiatives we did on Godspell was our Creator’s Commentary.  We got Stephen Schwartz and helmer Danny Goldstein to watch the show, and comment on how it all came together, as the show was happening in the background (You can listen to it here, btw, or even download it from iTunes so you can listen to it while you Zumba or P90X!)

Obviously this idea was based on the popular DVD Commentary that comes with most movies these days as an added value when you purchase the DVD.

Well, the writer-director of the still-in-movie-theaters Looper (who is also the genie-genius behind the camera of Breaking Bad) just raised the bar . . . and figured out a simple way to go beyond “added value.”

Rian Johnson, said writer-director, created an audio commentary track for his film that you can download for free NOW, before the DVD even comes out.  And he recommends you toss it on your ol’ iPod, and head back to the movie theater to see his flick again.  And when the credits role?  Hit play, and start your popcorn.

To recap:

Movie + Commentary = A New Experience for the Audience + and A Few More Bucks for Rian Johnson

Read all about it here.

Getting people to pay to experience live entertainment a second time, especially one that doesn’t change like a movie, or a musical, is super challenging, especially with our high cost barrier.  In our biz, the biggest marketing shtick we have to get someone to come back is a cast change.  So, I usually recommend you spend the majority of your marketing energies getting the people that have come to see your show to get other people to come and see your show, not to get them to come again (Work on word of mouth, not on return visitors).  Because it’s just too hard.

But Rian reminds us not to ignore the idea of return visitors completely.  Providing the small segment of your audience that are the super fans with extra value content may not only get them back, but it just may make them sing about your show a little louder to all their friends.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • I had a feeling you would write about this, lol.
    I want to go again– not quite sure I understand how to do it. (That website has been open in my browser for a week or two.) The ending of Looper was transformational for me and helped me make a change in my life.

    P.S. (Thanks for introducing me to Vulture.)

  • pmeluso says:

    I love the idea of commentary to go along with a show. Offer a few different versions from different POVs to really pump return visits.

    I’m glad you’re reminding everyone to not give up on “super fans”. ok – I’m guessing there aren’t a whole lot of nuts like me who see their favorite shows again and again but certain shows do seem able to cultivate a following. I saw ABz maaaaany times and often brought one or more people with me. (thanks for those days) Did the same with Cabaret, Chicago, and would do it with Newsies if I were still in NY(and it wasn’t so pricy). Hard core fans spread the word, let other’s sample the show, make for a more lively and supportive audience, and put dependable butts in the seats. Back in Cabaret days I called myself a “backer”.

    Here are some other tactics to get us to increase frequency and maybe even do a “bulk purchase” (where we buy a bunch of tkts and book the actual dates over time)
    – Let us get “our seats” – make it easy to get the spots we love
    – Backstage stuff – com’on after 30, 40, 50, 100 tickets don’t we deserve a quick tour?
    – Flash email when understudies are up – it’s always a thrill watching someone from the back step up to a role
    – Credits at the show souvenir desk
    – And of course discounts always help make it all possible, especially if you can offer us discounts for more people on the same day or help avoiding the “premium” seat nightmare

    Connecting with the cast is always important too so spending some time teaching them about stage door etiquette/relations/marketing could also go a long way.

    Ahhhh I miss my weekly front row center – p

  • says:

    An incredibly great idea! We travel from Washington state twice a year to see shows. I would love to see a show a second time with commentary from the producer, director, cast etc.

  • Ilene says:

    I agree with Pmeluso,don’t give up on those who are super fans. I like the email understudy announcements for returns, also, if possible … Alternate endings (if the script lends itself). Have a T/W/R ending and a F/S/S ending (like Clue). For returners, stamp ticket with something that includes theirname (so ID is required somehow), and give them deep discounts for each additional time they see the show, or, if you bring a ticket stub and receipt to the box office when buying tux for your friends, you get your ticket at a big discount. Something to be thought out so it would prevent people from sharing fix stubs to loan friends to get the discount. Maybe, if you loved the show, and think you might come again, sign the guestbook (including ID), and if you wanna come again, we will look you up to confirm … They could have their own ticket concierge. Or… Show current ticket with receipt with your name and prior ticket with receipt with your name, and get a free ???? At the giftshop. I’m rambling … Waiting for a delayed flight. The problem with recorded commentary is ghat you can sometimes hear the sound coming through the person’s head through headphones, so it would distract others.

  • Sage says:

    Wow. That is a really smart idea.

  • Mark Borum says:

    I think this is really interesting. Something you mentioned was how hard it was to get return visitors with high cost barriers and to focus more on word-of-mouth promotion. Do you think it would make sense to promote a show by implementing free repeat visits? Meaning, what if full-price consumers were able to come back for free with their ticket stub and a friend? The first consumer buys a ticket and becomes a marketing advocate. Then their friend(s) by tickets and repeat the process. Shows like Once and Wicked may not need to apply this method, but something along the lines of Nice Work or Bring It On could benefit. Thoughts?

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