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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A simple savings game for your show, your business, and your life.

When it comes to spending money for shows, my philosophy is this . . . get the very best, for the very least.  Simple, right?  Get the best for the audience, and save the most for the investors – it’s the secret of coming in under budget and producing a great show.

Harder done than blogged, for sure.  So here’s a fun little game that I play every day on my shows, with my company, and even in my personal life.

It’s called “Save 10/Make 10”!  (Or as your budgets get bigger, “Save 100/Make 100,” and you keep adding zeros.)  Ready to play?

Here are the simple rules.

Every day you try to find a way to save $10 or make $10 that you wouldn’t have saved or made unless you thought about it.  So if this were your personal life, maybe it would be not going to Starbucks one day.  Or just ordering a tall instead of a venti.  There’s a couple bucks.  Maybe you walk to work instead of the subway.  And so forth.  You’ll save $10.  Do that every day and ch-ching.  You’ll save $3,650 a year.  At the same time, you look at seeing how you can make $10 a day.  Do you put something on eBay?  Do you ask your boss for an hour of OT?  What can you do to make just a few extra bucks?  If you can figure out a way to make $10 a day, then you’ll add $3,650 to your bottom line.

By saving and making, you’ve just changed your life to the tune of $7,300 a year.  Not bad, huh?

On a show, do you look at cheaper batteries for your microphones?  Print a program that’s a page less?  Check out cheaper dry cleaners?

And to make a few extra, is there a VIP ticket to add to your ticket menu?  A new piece of merch to sell?  Do you make some calls to potential group buyers yourself?

Doesn’t take much to add $73,000 to a show’s bottom line (“Save $100/Make $100″”).

You won’t always win this little savings/making game.  Some days you’ll save/make more than others.  But either way, it puts you in the right frame of mind every day to constantly be looking for the most efficient ways to run your shows, your business and your life.

Try it today.  It will work.  And it’s the perfect example of how setting a small, achievable goal in the short term and then repeating it can be much more effective than setting a larger goal for the long term.

Because it’s often a small change that can add up to a heck of a lot more than just spare change.

Good luck!

 

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What Broadway does that tours should do, and a “Will it Recoup?” update!

When a Broadway show recoups its capitalization, the Producer and the Press Agent scream it from the hills like they were Mel Gibson in Braveheart going into battle.  “Recooooooooouuuuuupppppment!!!!”

And they should.

Recouping a Broadway show ain’t easy, so everyone involved (including the artists and actors, btw) should be so proud of what they’ve done.  (And besides, those press releases are the only way our all-too secretive industry can put some kind of recoupment research together.)

You know who doesn’t announce recoupment?

National Tours.

Go on, think about it.  When was the last time you saw a headline on Playbill.com that said, “National Tour of Some Show with a Soap Opera Star Recoups!” Or even, “National Tour of Last Year’s Tony Award Winner Recoups!”

We just don’t do it.

Why?

Is it because National Tours have an unbelievably high recoupment rate?  Since National Tours have the opposite business model of Broadway productions, tours usually don’t even hit the road unless they are as-close-to-guaranteed-as-possible that they’ll finish in the black.  (It’s why a lot of Broadway investors invest in the original Broadway productions . . . to get the right to invest in the tour(s).)  So since it’s more of a “given,” do we just not think it’s special enough to put out there?

Or are we afraid of putting it out there for the public for fear of getting the attention of unions and vendors who want a bigger piece?  (If so, I think we have plenty of losses on Broadway to point to that balance the equation.)

Or are we afraid of putting it out there because the Presenters of the tours might be losing money, while the tours themselves are making money?

There are a bunch of reasons why not to, I guess, but I for one would like to see more tours trumpeting their profitability when it happens.  (Quick tip: follow the press releases for a small public company – they spit more out than you can keep up with – we can learn from that.)  I’ve always believed that the more positive news there is about our business in the press, the more people want to get involved.   The more people involved, the more product that we can produce, the more jobs we can create, and the more risks that we can take . . . which just creates better art, and a better business at the same time.

And isn’t that our goal?

Hey!  While I’ve got recoupment on my brain (and what Producer doesn’t have it on his/her mind most of the time – recoupment to a Producer is the equivalent of you-know-what for a teenage boy), let’s get you a “Will It Recoup?” update!

You forgot about my fantasy Broadway game, didn’t you?  Well, we’re in the thick of it now!  Of the six shows in this year’s race, four of them have already had their fate decided:

  • Fish in the Dark – recouped!  (Even if they haven’t announced yet, we know they have or will.)
  • The Audience – recouped!
  • The Heidi Chronicles – did not recoup.
  • Living on Love – did not recoup.

The last two shows that will decide the winner are . . . Skylight and Wolf Hall.  Gonna be a nail-biter!  Stay tuned to find out who wins the $500!

And then maybe one of them will go on tour and announce their recoupment, too.  🙂

 

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I wanna play too!

We’re a game-playing society . . . and I’m not just talking about the psychological ones agents try to play on producers when negotiating contracts.

Everything’s more fun when it’s a game. Learning how to spell, driving long distances (punch buggy!), and even dieting.  People like to win, to finish, to reach their goal . . . in the game of life.

Games have always been used in marketing, but thanks to the video game generation, we’re in the midst of a gamification explosion.  The simple axiom is this:  Get people to play your games, and they’ll be more engaged with your product.  Impressions don’t become simple impressions any more.  They become hooks that dig deep into your customers’ subconscious.  And what’s fantastic about gamification marketing is in most cases, if the game is good, the customers have no idea that they are being reeled in deeper and deeper by the company doing the marketing.

Perfect example of a game that has deeply engaged its fans and without a doubt added to the bottom line of its industry (and is now an industry unto itself?)  Fantasy Football.

If you don’t know what Fantasy Football is, it’s a role-playing game that allows you to build your own “fantasy” football team with players from different teams, and compete against other players.  The winners are decided by the statistics from the actual football games in the NFL.

I was listening to two “dudes” talk about their upcoming draft on the subway the other day.  They were so amped up about their upcoming “season,” and they spent the entire ride from 72nd to 23rd (on a local!) talking about which players from which teams they were after.

And there’s no question in my mind that because of their fantasy football game-playing, these virtual General Managers were going to be more inclined to:

  • Watch NFL games on television
  • Purchase tickets to see an NFL game live
  • Buy merch (guess which players’ jerseys they’d want)
  • And more

And they had no idea.  Because they were in the game zone.

And that’s when I got supes-jealous.

You see, there’s Fantasy Football, and Fantasy Baseball.  Basketball too. And yep, even Fantasy Golf.

And oh wait, there’s even Fantasy Bowling!

So where’s Fantasy Broadway?  Come one, someone, figure out how we’d do this.

Ok, truth . . . I’ve always dreamed about starting a league myself . . . but have stumbled over how it’d be modified for our unique season.  The guys at the Crazytown blog threw out an idea a couple of years ago (in which they actually referenced my board game) and they seem to be close.  And BroadwaySpotted has done something like it as well.

But it has yet to roll out in a big time official way.

And I want to play.  Don’t you?  Fantasy Broadway.  Sounds so much fun. And you and I and thousands of theater fans could spend their subway rides talking about how you wanted Patti LuPone for your show but your buddy got her first.

And then you and I and those thousands of theater fans engrossed in the game would be more inclined to, yep, you guessed it:

  • Watch video content of Broadway shows
  • Purchase tickets to see a Broadway show
  • Buy merch (guess which show jerseys they’d want)
  • And more

So some Broadway/Math/Game expert out there, figure this out.  Tell me how it works in the comments below, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll get it built.

And my show will gross so much higher than yours.

 

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Who won my Tony Pool and the iPad Mini?

We had another record number of entries in my Tony Pool this year, so thanks to all of you for playing.

And boy, you guys are some good pickers, because we had a lot of people with 17, 18, 19 . . . and even 20 right!

(I had a pretty good year, nailing 18 of them on the money.  Not as good as the Tony Pool majority choices, which got 19.  But hey, at least I beat the damn psychic.  Miss Rose only got 11.)  

This year, we had FIVE people tie for first place with 20 out of 26.  Five!  We’ve never had that many tie before.

So it came down to the tie-bustin’ question . . . and, after much analysis, the winner is . . .

ALEXIS QUALLS!

Congratulations, Alexis!  You get an iPad Mini!  Email me for instructions on how to grab your new fancy device.

How did you do?  What did you miss?  Any surprises?  Let me know in the comments below.

And if you didn’t win, don’t be upset.  There’s always next year.  Broadway 2014 Tony Season has already begun.  Want to start the pool now?  Who is giving Rocky odds to win?  🙂

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
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