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 Chicago, finds 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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