Why Big Brands should start producing theater, or What I learned from Theme Parks.

I’m going to Orlando this weekend, so naturally I have theme parks on the brain.

That, plus yesterday was Back to the Future Day” . . . so combine that with theme parks and I can’t help but think of the Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios.

That was a fun ride, right?  And it promoted that movie and that franchise in a very subtle way, because it was a unique and fun concept on its own, just under the B2TF umbrella.

Media companies have been doing this at theme parks for years.  They have also been doing it in video games (The Walking Dead video game or The Godfather video game).

But why stop at theme parks and vid games?

I just blogged about how for the first time, theater is being included in the distribution circle of a big entertainment brand with the announcement of the Harry Potter play.  But that’s just the tip of the lightning bolt scar for the right entertainment properties.  Successful movies and television shows should start looking at theater as an extension of their brand, to build their popularity . . . and give people a live, immersive experience that modern audiences crave (remember, our audience is about to become “The Video Game Generation” – they grew up with joysticks in their hands so they are going to want to be in their entertainment).

Need some examples of what I’m talking about?

Why isn’t there a live, immersive Law & Order right here in NYC?  Can you imagine?  You meet at a destination and you stumble on a dead body (just like the prologue of every episode), then you become an investigator, travel to different locations (L&O sound effects not included), interview witnesses, go to the courthouse to watch the trial, or watch the confession.  So cool, right?  I could create that show in a heartbeat and make it cool, fun, and expand the brand of the TV show.

HBO’s Newsroom could have done the same thing . . . live on a Newsroom floor.

Or could horror movies have Halloween theatrical events?  A Paranormal Activity show?  The Shining at a hotel?  Or at hotels across the country?  (Oh man, that would be “killer.”)

Not only would theatrical presentations of these properties extend the brand and make money, but there’s a legitimacy to a theatrical production (especially if outsourced to the right Producers and creators) that theme parks and video games don’t have.

So if you’re listening, big media brands . . . the theater is the next frontier.

And the best part is, it doesn’t even have to be in a theater.


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  • Carvanpool says:

    Just the right recipe for weak tea.

    Poor quality knockoffs will dilute and damage the “brand”.

  • Tracy Jordan says:

    As usual, Ken Davenport​ has some excellent and innovative ideas. Having done a lot of themed interactive entertainment during my time in Las Vegas (Caesars Magical Empire, Start Star Trek The Experience​, The Venetian Gondolas), I think he’s onto something!

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