What I Did On My Christmas Vacation and What It Has To Do With The Tony Awards.

I can’t tell you the last time I stepped inside a movie theater.

And since just a year ago it was reported that movie theater attendance was at a 25 year low (!), I would bet you a bucket of overpriced popcorn that it has been a while since YOU have visited your local cineplex yourself.  (Side note:  Broadway attendance is at an all-time high – who’s the growth industry now, huh?)

It’s not that I don’t like a good movie.  I really do.  I just don’t go.  I like, however, when the good movies come to me . . . via Netflix, Hulu or . . . when my wife gets her “screeners” for the SAG awards.

See, Tracy is a SAG member, so she gets a vote, which means she has to watch the flicks. And the producers of the nominated films make it easy for her to do so by sending her DVDs or by making the movies available online.

So guess what we did on our Xmas vacation?  We snuggled up with some Jiffy Pop Popcorn (I’m old school like that) and watched everything from Bohemian Rhapsody to The Green Book and more.

Which got me to thinking . . .

Could Broadway shows have screeners?

It has now become customary for most Broadway shows to invite the voters to come bacto see the show a 2nd time after the Tony nominations are announced, especially if a show opens in the fall (as I wrote about here). But that’s hard for a lot of voters, especially during the spring, when there are gobs of new shows to see before the end of the season deadline.

So what if we sent videos?

I know, it wouldn’t be the same.  A video doesn’t tell the same theatrical story as being in the theater.  But it’s better than NOT seeing it.

And I know we’re not currently allowed to distribute full recordings.  But maybe the unions would allow it if it was for voter promotional purposes?  After all, a show winning an award helps that show run longer, which is better for everyone, isn’t it?

We could do it online and have the passwords expire (if the movie industry can protect their screeners against theft and piracy, surely we can too).

I believe in pushing every button possible in a promotional campaign, especially when something as high stakes as an award is on the line.  And this is an option that I’d like to see available to us, even if not every show chose to exercise it.

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  • Phil Moore says:

    Being a filmmaker as well as a theatre writer, I’m all for more imaginative use of video in theatre. I plan to do it with my upcoming show, and look at the success of groups like Starkid Productions using filmed versions of their productions as a core part of their business model.


    I get why many theatrical producers are against it – at least until the show has effectively run its course on stage. Using video as password protected screeners for award voters is also fraught. It just takes one screener to get into the wrong hands – Piracy often finds a way. But for theatre at least this might be less of an issue. The show is more than the screener.

    In this new Social Media landscape, I think letting people see a show on video (especially a NEW show), is on balance a worthwhile promotional tool for the live version. It’s the new loss leader model – give away the digital product, sell the merch, add-ons, extras and live experience that still has scarcity value.

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