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.

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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.

Why National Roller Coaster Day is Important to Broadway Producers, Writers, and all Theater Makers.

Today is National Roller Coaster Day.  (See, Community Theaters?  I told you that pretty much anything can have a day – especially a great institution like yours.)

I wasn’t always a Roller Coaster Fan.  When I was 9, I was scared @#$%-less of Space Mountain and wouldn’t go on it.  I sat at the bottom, waiting for my Dad and my cousin to come out of the darkness. (Deep down, I was worried that they might never make it out, I guess.)

When they did step out of their coaster car, their hair was literally blown back, their clothes were disheveled, and they had a smile on their face like they had eaten rainbows for breakfast.

“What a thrill,” my cousin yelped.  And my 52-year-old Dad babbled like a 2-year-old, he was so excited.

And shouldn’t theater do that as well?

If you’re creating a piece of theater, you’d be better off imaginign your show like a roller coaster.  It needs ups, downs, thrills, laughs, gasps, fear . . . oh, and it shouldn’t be too long.  🙂

And it should leave the audience saying the same thing that my cousin said . . .

“I want to go on again!”

And guess what . . . because of her excitement, this time, I went.

And I’ve been a thrill-ride enthusiast in theme parks (and on stages), ever since.


Want to learn how Tony Award-winning writers write their own rollercoasters?  Click here.

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.

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