3 Dramatic Ideas for the Movie Industry from a Broadway Producer.

Here’s something I never thought I’d say . . . thank God I don’t produce movies.

Why sure, sure, the theater ain’t no producin’ picnic, but . . . well, let me just ask you this . . . when was the last time YOU went to a movie?  Seriously, how many movies did you go to in the last 12 months?  And how many movies did you go to in a 12 month period 10 years ago?

That’s what I thought.

The very thing that makes movies so profitable – only having to “make it” once and then monetize it forever – has made it less rare and therefore, less valuable.  Anyone can make a movie . . . anyone can start a streaming platform . . . and with the high quality of TV technology . . . not to mention the high-quality free TV programs, is it any surprise that people stay home and pop their own popcorn?

This challenge led the NY Times to ask some of the top filmmakers if the movie industry can even survive the next ten years,  You can find their answers here.

Certainly, Hollywood will survive, it will just look a lot different than it does now. The same way the music industry had to reinvent itself fifteen years ago when Napster and Limewire disrupted the world (remember those platforms?).

But the movie industry is going to have to shake it up, not stir it up. . . so I thought I’d offer three ideas on how to bring audiences back to the movies.

  1. Release a film in one theater at a time. 

Do you know why Broadway is so hot right now?  Because when there’s a hit show, you can only get it in one place.  And that scarcity drives up prices.

So, why not try it with a film?  Put it in NYC.  Put it in Chicago.  LA.  And nowhere else.  Make it rare.  Which will make it valuable.

Now, studios, this is going to @#$% with your business model like crazy.  Because you can’t make a $100mm film this way . . . just like we can’t make a $100mm musical (as Spider-Man proved).  The answer is . . . DON’T make $100mm movies.  Slimming your business model will force you to slim your budgets, which have gotten out of control anyway.  And that’s coming from a Broadway producer who makes less when producing a show than most of my vendors!

  1. Give it away for free.

The current Hollywood model is all about trying to get the biggest gross on opening weekend as possible.  How’s that working out for you, folks?  Time to flip it on its head.  Try giving it away on opening or that first weekend to generate so much word of mouth it gets more people talking than any amount of advertising could.  And hey, make the theaters give you a deal for doing it this way . . . because they’re going to sell a @#$% ton more popcorn.

  1. Forget theaters.  Stream it on THIS.

No, I’m not going to say Netflix.  I’m not going to say Hulu.  Or Amazon.

Stream it on your OWN site.  That’s right, give it away, or charge a few bucks, but make people sign on to YOUR website to do it.  Get that data (which is worth bucket loads of $$$).  Get that contact info.  All of which will allow you to market your next film much more easily.

Movies, Broadway, and Book Publishing are similar industries.  Our “products” are all sold through 3rd party providers (Telecharge, Fandango, Amazon, etc.).  When we give our customers to another party, we lose massive amounts of power.

Maybe it’s time we all try to take it back.

The movie industry has already been disrupted . . . and it still hasn’t found its way through yet (except by licensing their IP to Broadway Producers).  And yeah, I’m predicting we’ll see a lot of empty movie theaters in the next ten years.

The good news?

Maybe we’ll be able to turn them into real theaters.

– – – – –

Are you interested in getting rights to a project from the movie studios?  I’ve got reps from all the biggies coming to the SuperConference to give you tips and tricks on how to do just that.  Click here and get your ticket now, before the price goes up on August 31st!

 

Broadway Grosses w/e 8/17/2019: Heat Gotcha Down

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 11, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

Why I’m producing Harmony by Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow.

If this is the first you’re hearing about this musical coming to New York, then you gotta follow me here . . . because that’s where I announce a lot of the fun stuff.

But let me recap . . .

On Friday night, at about 9:15, Barry Manilow announced from the stage of his Broadway residency that Harmony, the musical he co-wrote with Bruce Sussman, would make its New York debut at the famed NYTF (the same theater that birthed the current and magnificent Fiddler revival) in February of 2020.

And I’m thrilled to be the Commercial Producer partnering with the NYTF to make this happen.

Barry teased this in Vegas a few months ago (which we also caught on video here), but I’m so excited that it’s finally public . . . and you can even get tickets for it now.

So what got me “singing” Harmony?  I’ll tell you, as I always do when I sign on to a show . . .

First, if you saw Gettin’ The Band Back Together, then you know I’m a big Barry Manilow fan, and always have been.  (Someday I’ll tell you the story of how Gettin’ The Band led me to Harmony, which is one for the books, and one of the greatest lessons of my life.)

Second, I am a fan of all-guy harmony groups.  Having been a performer in the musical Forever Plaid 4x and having seen the success of my own Altar Boyz, as well as Jersey Boys (and the boy-band/harmony genre in general), I’ve always known that audiences have a thing for seeing groups of guys sing and dance in groups.  (In fact, we now manage this killer group that knocks ’em dead all over the country.)

Third, the score to this sucker is outstanding.  But it’s Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman . . . are you surprised?  They write the songs.  Literally.  So when you come to Harmony, one of the things I will guarantee are some effin’ melodies and rich lyrics that will crawl into your ear and never come out (like that thing in Wrath of Khan, for you Trekkies out there).

Lastly, I signed on to this show because of the story.  That’s the most important thing in musicals, even if the music gets all the attention.  Without a roller coaster ride of a well-told story (as we talked about on Friday), you can forget me (and most audiences) ever getting involved.

Harmony is about a little known group called The Comedian Harmonists . . . one of the most successful musical groups in Europe in the years leading up to World War II.  Why is so little known about them?  Well, they were from Germany.  And the group was half Jewish and half Gentile.  And most every permanent “record” of their existence was destroyed.  Purposefully.

It’s a musical that tells the story of the rise of a guy group from a street corner to big stages all over the world, performing their big ol’ comedic production numbers with a sound you’ve gotta hear to believe – only to be broken apart in one of the most horrific times in the world’s history.

It had me laughing, singing along, and yeah, shedding more than a few tears . . . just after reading it.

And honestly?  It’s a story and a time and a place and a people that a guy with the last name of Davenport isn’t as familiar with as he should be.  But I want to be.  So once again, I’m producing something that I don’t know, on purpose.

And I’m thrilled to be partnering with the NYTF to bring this important and entertaining musical to downtown Manhattan . . . where you can see The Statue of Liberty from just outside the theater.

Barry, Bruce, and I hope to see you there.

Get tix now.

Broadway Grosses w/e 8/11/2019: Summer Days, Drifting Away

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 11, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

Six Says “Suck It” to Traditional Development Path, Which Is Sick! (In a Good Way)

People ask me all the time why Broadway doesn’t change.  The answer is the same as to why most things don’t change.

Fear.

See, our business model is super fragile.  It’s like carrying around an egg, while you’re walking on a sheet of ice . . . wearing slippers made of ice.  And because of that, we trudge very, very slowly, taking very small steps towards our goals, for fear of not only dropping the egg, but of falling on our face and breaking our a$$ (dollar signs intended).

So whenever the question comes up of bucking a traditional way of doing something, most of us (including me, a ton of the time) say, “We’ll just do it the way that it has been done . . . because it can work that way.”

But that doesn’t mean that’s the BEST way for it to work.

Take bringing a new show to Broadway, for example.

The “what’s always been done” approach is the reading to the workshop to the out of town tryout to Broadway.  (Click here to access a free webinar on “The Road to Broadway” if you want a more in-depth description of this path).

The “what’s always been frowned upon” approach is putting shows in lesser markets or exposing the title to the regions before launching on Broadway.   “It’ll lessen the brand,” “You gotta save it for the tour,” or “You have to show everyone you are first class and first class only!”

Blah, blah.

Then, along comes the courageous producers of Six, including Kevin McCollum (who is no stranger to trying new things – who, with his partners, moved Avenue Q to Broadway when everyone said it wasn’t a Broadway show, then downsized it to Off-Broadway with a Tony Award in tow to get another ten years out of it), and Kenny Wax (who has built an empire on a little show called The Play That Goes Wrong and its spinoffs – a strategy that hasn’t worked on any other show since Nunsense) to say . . . “Eff the traditional model!  We’re going to do something different!

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Earlier this week, the buzzy West End smash that tells the story of the six wives of Henry VII as a pop concert announced that it’s opening on Broadway in the Spring.

But the show isn’t coming direct from the West End.  It’s playing both Boston and Chicago this summer.

“Ok, ok, that’s not soooooo crazy.”

But then they announced they were going to Australia.

“Before Broadway?  Huh. What are they . . . ”

And then they announced that they are going BACK to Chicago next summer.

“Now why . . .”

And THEN they announced that they are going to play cruise ships.  Cruise ships, I tell you!  Cruise ships!  Where other shows wouldn’t even consider playing.

If you heard that sound, it was the system . . . getting bucked.

And I love it.

Why?

Six has a ton of buzz, great reviews and audience response . . . but it’s not yet a brand.  It’s not a Hollywood movie turned musical.  It’s doesn’t have a songbook with 147 Top Ten hits.

And because Broadway is a brand snob these days, it would have been challenging to bring it in the usual way.

So, these uber-smart Producers are building its brand . . . before they arrive.

The show is already getting press.  It’s already getting talked about (some folks are even blogging (!) about it).

And most importantly, by the time the show opens, more people will have seen it!  With all of these productions, the Producers are putting more marketing foot soldiers on the streets to sell tickets through word of mouth. #Brill

They’ve smartly checked their egos at the box office and planned a path that could lead not only to Broadway success but to global success as well, with a title that came out of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it started.

But now, I’m predicting big “sick” things for Six.


If you want to check out the webinar on the path shows take to get to Broadway, click here for free access.

Speaking of shows coming out of festivals, do you have your tickets to a RAVE show yet?  Many shows are SOLD OUT already!  Come support new theater!  Who knows, the next Six may be just a few blocks away!  Click here.

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