It’s gonna be “Game Night” on Broadway. What’s next?

The corporations are coming!  The corporations are coming!

First it was Disney, which made the most sense since their properties were already musicals (with musical theater writing teams, by the way).

Then it was the movie companies.

And when one of those movie companies (hint – it rhymes with Schmuniversal) announced that its biggest Broadway show (hint – it rhymes with Wicked) would be its most profitable property of all time (yep, beating the movies) . . . other companies that have toes in the the entertainment waters starting showing up on our shores.

It looks like this season we’ll see a TV show become a Broadway extravaganza when SpongeBob, which just opened in Chicagofinds a theater (and something tells me that no matter how crunched we are for theaters, somehow Viacom/Nickelodeon will be granted a home).

And I’ve already blogged about the music companies starting to push their way onto our playground . . . which makes sense, since jukebox musicals have sold a butt-ton of tickets in the last two decades . . . and lots of albums to go with it.

But Monday morning, another big corp made their Broadway dreams known to all when they announced a partnership with a NY Producing company to develop a property to the stage.

Get ready for . . . Monopoly The Musical.

And no, no, this isn’t a musical about the Theater Owners (Hey yo!  I’ll be here all week!  That is, unless one of the Theater Owners has me thrown into the Hudson!  But seriously folks!  No seriously, folks, #ProtectMe).

This isn’t the first time that a board game has become a stage musical actually.  Clue The Musical was Off Broadway in the 90s and still pops up on the stock and amateur circuit from time to time.

But this is the first time a board game will come with a powerhouse company like Hasbro behind it (the company behind the Transformers movies) and its millions and millions of dollars behind it (and that money won’t come in orange and blue and have little trains on them).

What’s exciting about moves like this is how Broadway is now becoming not only a part of a big brand’s extension, but a sought after part of a brand’s extension.

In other words, we’re becoming popular.  We’re like the smart girl in an 80s movie who the popular kids used to cheat off of . . . and now, we’ve taken out our scrunchie, whipped off our glasses, and bam . . . we’re hot.  And people actually want to take us to the prom!

And what Hasbro is doing that deserves extra special props is that they are partnering with a veteran in our biz to develop their material . . . in this case, the super-smart and ultra-hip Araca Group (Urinetown, Disgraced, and every t-shirt that Wicked has ever printed).

So this is a good thing . . .

But, thinking a bit long term for a second . . .

What we’re going to have to be a bit afraid of is that, you see, unlike Hollywood, there are only so many shows that can exist on Broadway at one time.  And we’re already spatially challenged.  Hollywood can produce as many features as there are producers to produce them.  Same thing with the game market.  On Broadway, producers are limited by the number of theaters available.

And like Viacom, it’s going to be hard telling Hasbro to go play their games by themselves.

So what happens to the new original plays . . . the new original musicals?  What happens the next time a Hamilton comes along?

I’m not quite sure.  I’d like to think we’ll always find a place for new works, but that’s going to be harder as Broadway becomes more and more a place for big studio productions.

Oh, and one more prediction before I go for that swim in the Hudson . . . the next big player to get into our game . . . will be a video game company.

 

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Comments
  • Frank says:

    I nearly threw my phone when I read this news Monday.

    The reason Broadway is getting hot is because outside companies don’t see 10 million as a large investment. Film budget top $100 million all the time. Large companies see Broadway as a good outreach for their brands, and theater owners are all to eager to take their money. Essentially Broadway is turning into a giant advertising space for large corporations.

    Even Hamilton is being tossed about by the government as advertising for how they think the country should act and look and function. You don’t see government officials talking up Fun Home or Beautiful, right? They know when to jump on the bandwagon of “FREE” advertising!

  • Nancy Paris says:

    We used to have 80 Broadway theaters back in the day. Now we have 40. Why can’t those companies with gazillions of dollars build new theaters for their shows in some of the new buildings going up, and get a tax credit or other incentive from the city? Just sayin’…

  • Carvanpool says:

    Sounds like someone is a-skeerd of the competition.

    Get creative! Go big, or…

    Go home.

  • Martha says:

    The Dumbing down of New York theater begins. The masses are asses.

    • Observer says:

      Broadway has always been commercial, elitist snob pompous ass who hates ordinary people who work for a living. You want art, go to the Public. Why do you want to cram your Sondheim crap down the throats of the majority?

  • Ted Bacino says:

    Ken, you’re certainly right about one thing: the big money folks are squeezing out everyone else. I’ve been trying to get my show (“The Shakespeare Conspiracy”) produced for years. It’s been optioned twice but never produced big. It has had productions in Columbus, Fort Lauderdale and Rockford University, but one just can’t get the big one produced. What will happen when another “Hamilton” comes along? It will sit and rot probably.

  • Ilene Argento says:

    What came first, the lack of good original material that is well publicized, and, thus, successful, or the infiltration of retreads, rebranding, movies to stage, games to stage, jukebox musicals, etc. I have to admit, the thought of SpongeBob and Monopoly taking over a Broadway theatre hurts my heart. Having them build their own theatres is or isn’t the answer – the audience pool hasn’t grown enough to fill the theatres we have, but, would Sponge and Monopoly attract the same audiences that are filling seats for Hamilton, etc, or would it bring new people in who might catch the fever and, after seeing one of those, may go on to something more edgy, like, dare I say it, Lion King, and then on to more original productions?

  • Ron Casalotti says:

    For five years, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has had an ics show productions,”Ice Games”, an “ice show extravaganza based on the classic board game Monopoly that takes a “spin of the dice” and whisks the audience through a dynamic adventure” as featured entertainment on its mega-ship Allure of the Seas. I guess it was bound to happen. After all, Royal Caribbean has produced Broadway musical productions at sea (a live performance from one of which, Hairspray,was featured on the 2012 Tony Awards), so now Broadway gets to stoop to the level of cruise line entertainment (?)

    • Frank says:

      Interesting comparison. It makes sense seeing as they share the same general target market… white, affluent, 40 + year old, women who drag a spouse or partner along.

  • RICK says:

    ……..”So what happens to the new original plays . . . the new original musicals? What happens the next time a Hamilton comes along?”
    …..Ted Bacino….Great comment!! ….My Musical is prime for the Big investor….Will it get into the hands $$$ of the Hollywood / Broadway… Producers…Etc…. and they will say…Like..Home Depot …”Lets Do This”…or Nike…”Just Do it” ….Just saying….Thanks Ken!

    • Frank says:

      If your play is written as poorly as this comment, then I think you are going to struggle to get anyone to read past the first scene. Good luck though.

  • Sally says:

    Spongebob is here in Chicago, by the way, and it’s not selling well. They blame the Hamilton effect which is coming in September. Spongebob is getting good reviews, but IMO it’s a kid’s play. I saw a pretty good pre-Broadway play this spring, “Gotta Dance” which was headed to Broadway in April/June and it hasn’t popped up. So I don’t know if available theater space is the problem or they just dumped the musical.

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