What Movie Companies Did That Streaming Companies Should Do.

In the early 2000s, I talked my way into a meeting with one of the most powerful people in Hollywood.

It was my first, big “studio” meeting. And right on brand, the meeting started an hour after its scheduled start time.

We discussed the differences between the business models of theater and film. How Hollywood owned scripts instead of licensed them. How producers in Hollywood became hired guns after they proved themselves.  

And despite all that, how a Broadway show could make MORE money than a hit movie or even a hit franchise.

(Yep, it’s true. See here to read how Wicked will make more money than Jurassic Park or ET, and see here to read how The Lion King will make more than Star Wars.)

That’s why the next thing I said to this mogul was . . .

“You know, you should have a theater department at your studio. A team to comb through your catalogs for the best adaptions.  Develop some yourself.  Market some to others. There is more gold in your mine. You need a team to dig it out.”

(Yep, I’m sure I was angling for a job – since none of my shows had hit yet.)

“Nah.  That’s not what we do.  It’s still not big enough for us.”

Flash forward almost 20 years later . . . and that studio has a theater department.

As does EVERY other major Hollywood studio.

We’re at the same moment in entertainment history that we were those 20 years ago . . . except I’m not sitting down with big ol’ Hollywood studios this time.

I’m talking to the new, upstart, streaming sites out there.

Yep, Netflix, Apple and yeah, if any of them, Amazon . . . you should have a theater department.  

You’ve already optioned some of our content. Disney with Hamilton. Apple with Come from Away. Netflix with Diana, American Son, and more.  

And you should have someone keeping an eye on what you should get next.  

But you should also have a team mining all that original content for dramatization.  

The streaming sites are in the midst of an original content war. And that war has produced so much original programming, plenty of which is ripe for a stage adaptation.

And yeah, as you can see from those articles above, it only takes one to outgross everything else you’ve done.  

So get ahead of your competitors and start a theatrical division today.

And if you need some recommendations on who to run your theater team for you, let me know.  (And no, I’m not talking about me.)

Katori Hall wins Pulitzer Prize for The Hot Wing King

In case you missed the news last week, there was indeed a winner this year for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama!

(There have been several years where the award was not given – and in a year where there wasn’t a lot of theater as we usually know it – there was some worry that it’d get skipped again.)

But nope.  We have a winner!

Katori Hall’s play The Hot Wing King, “the story of two gay black men in Memphis, Tennessee navigating love, life, and family” picked up one of the most coveted awards in the world, the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

The show opened at Signature Theater Company in February 2020 before being postponed, but was still granted eligibility for this year’s prize.

(Hall has had a busy couple of years – penning the book (and getting a Tony nomination) for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.  And she was the Executive Producer and Showrunner for P-Valley on Starz, based on her play.  Oh, and she also appeared on my livestream – click here to watch that video).

Another interesting tid bit about this year’s awards was that one of the finalists was a “streamed” production – Patrick Foley and Michael Breslin’s Circle Jerk. 

So yes, my theatermakin’ friends and theatermakin’ fans, streaming is here to stay.

Congrats to Katori, and all the finalists . . . and, well, anyone that got their play off the ground in the past 12 months.  You all deserve awards, just for making it happen.

– – – – –

Watch my interview with Katori Hall here.