What the Harry Potter play means for Broadway.

So, I don’t know if you heard, but J.K. Rowling isn’t done with the Harry Potter stories.

And her next incarnation of the wonderful world of wizards isn’t going to be in a book . . . and it isn’t going to be on a screen.

It’s going to be on a stage.

This past June, Ms. Rowling announced that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will open in the West End in the summer of 2016, and will be helmed by none other than Once and my Macbeth director, John Tiffany.

Ok, so, I never made it through all the Potter books or movies, but I gotta say, I’m excited to see it, especially since they signed up Tiffany (who staged the best show not on Broadway this past season – St. Ann’s Let the Right One In).

But there’s something else exciting about the announcement of this production.

The theater made it to the cool kids’ table.

Harry Potter is one of the most valuable and profitable franchises on the p-p-p-planet.  It’s a super-sized brand that has generated billions of bucks for everyone involved. And Rowling could have continued to pump out books and movies and Harry Potter key chains, blankets and Pez dispensers.

But for the next ‘stage’ of Harry’s life, she chose to bring him into the theater.

In 2013, Broadway tipped when Universal Pictures President, Jimmy Horowitz, told the NY Times that Wicked would be the most profitable venture in the company’s history – beating all of its movies.

And now, with Harry expanding to the stage, it seems that the major players in the entertainment industry are including the theater as part of their brand expansion (which is also why every single movie studio now has an internal Broadway shop dedicated to their titles).

This is a good thing.  It is.

Unless Broadway shows go the way of big budget movies, with projects assembled in the boardroom using only the artists that have tested well.  Those big box companies coming onto our shores need to remember to hand over the reins to artists like Tiffany and Producers like Sonia Friedman (who is on board for Potter).  

Because success in the theater is still the result of the independent maverick who goes their own way to make magic happen . . . kind of like Harry Potter himself.

 

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