What I Did On My Christmas Vacation and What It Has To Do With The Tony Awards.

I can’t tell you the last time I stepped inside a movie theater.

And since just a year ago it was reported that movie theater attendance was at a 25 year low (!), I would bet you a bucket of overpriced popcorn that it has been a while since YOU have visited your local cineplex yourself.  (Side note:  Broadway attendance is at an all-time high – who’s the growth industry now, huh?)

It’s not that I don’t like a good movie.  I really do.  I just don’t go.  I like, however, when the good movies come to me . . . via Netflix, Hulu or . . . when my wife gets her “screeners” for the SAG awards.

See, Tracy is a SAG member, so she gets a vote, which means she has to watch the flicks. And the producers of the nominated films make it easy for her to do so by sending her DVDs or by making the movies available online.

So guess what we did on our Xmas vacation?  We snuggled up with some Jiffy Pop Popcorn (I’m old school like that) and watched everything from Bohemian Rhapsody to The Green Book and more.

Which got me to thinking . . .

Could Broadway shows have screeners?

It has now become customary for most Broadway shows to invite the voters to come bacto see the show a 2nd time after the Tony nominations are announced, especially if a show opens in the fall (as I wrote about here). But that’s hard for a lot of voters, especially during the spring, when there are gobs of new shows to see before the end of the season deadline.

So what if we sent videos?

I know, it wouldn’t be the same.  A video doesn’t tell the same theatrical story as being in the theater.  But it’s better than NOT seeing it.

And I know we’re not currently allowed to distribute full recordings.  But maybe the unions would allow it if it was for voter promotional purposes?  After all, a show winning an award helps that show run longer, which is better for everyone, isn’t it?

We could do it online and have the passwords expire (if the movie industry can protect their screeners against theft and piracy, surely we can too).

I believe in pushing every button possible in a promotional campaign, especially when something as high stakes as an award is on the line.  And this is an option that I’d like to see available to us, even if not every show chose to exercise it.

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The London Theater Maker Social is just FIVE days away!  Can you get yourself to London on Tuesday, January 15th?  Come on down and let me buy you a drink!  See here for more.

How Broadway shows can take advantage of a Fall opening for the Tony Awards.

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog that proved that shows that opened in the Spring had a better shot at winning a Tony Award over shows that opened in the Fall. You can read that blog here.

Then, in 2015, I updated it with more recent data . . . and found the same conclusion. Check that one out here.

So, naturally, the takeaway is . . . if you want to stack the Tony odds in your favor, open in the Spring.

But not so fast, Captain Jack. It ain’t that easy.

These days, choosing “when” you open is even more difficult than choosing “where” you open. Getting a theater is hard enough, but if you manage to get one, choosing your start date, even your season, can be even more challenging since so many shows are willing to jump in and open at any time. (Add in the schedule of an in-demand creative team, and it’s amazing shows happen at all.)

What do you do if you have a fall opening, and you really want/need a Tony Award in order for your show to be a success?

Fret not, because I believe there is some serious upside to a Fall opening nowadays, you just have to make sure you take advantage of what you’ve got to work with (it was actually a Fall opening for Once on this Island that I believe is one of the reasons we were able to win the big one).

Here are three advantages to a Fall opening:

  1. Tony Voters can see you twice.

It has become commonplace for shows that open earlier in the season to invite Voters back to see their show again much closer to the voting deadline. And if you can get the voters to take you up on this . . . well, two impressions are much better than one. And if your show opens in April, there ain’t no way you’re getting these folks to come back again. Not only will they have just seen you, but they’ve got 140 other shows to see before the deadline. So forget that. I like the strategy of inviting voters early, and then inviting them back again, even before nominations come out, so they have more time in their schedule to set up a second viewing.

  1. You start out at the front of the pack.

So few shows open in the Fall these days that if you’re one of those shows, you’re like a horse that bursts out of the starting gate to an early lead. And every show after has to top you. You set the pace. Grabbing that early lead can put you at a big advantage, rather than opening right in the midst of when all the other shows are opening, when voters have more to compare you to. Just remember, if you do grab that early lead, you gotta work really hard to keep it. Because by opening earlier, your race is longer, which means your horse could tire a bit early (metaphor translation = you’re going to need more marketing and advertising to keep you ahead).

  1. Your Tony Campaign can start right after you open.

While our Tony Awards campaigns are not as elaborate/expensive as Hollywood’s campaigns to win an Oscar, they’re getting there. The Spring shows barely have time to think about a campaign before they have to launch theirs. But you, you with the Fall show, you can not only design your campaign, but you can launch it much, much earlier . . . not only through advertising but by positioning your shows/performers at industry events, seeding press stories about your various elements, etc. Ask a politician running for office if they’d rather have 6 months to campaign for office or one month and they’ll tell you they want twelve months. Use the time to tell your story of why your show deserves a Tony.

Statistics may tell us the ways things have been, but that doesn’t mean they have to be the way they are. And if you can’t change your show’s schedule, change your thinking about that schedule and find a way to make it work for you.

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We’ve got a ton of Tony Winners speaking at my SuperConference this year. Hear from them firsthand how they got that trophy and pick up tips on how you can start your path to the podium too.  Click here.

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/24/2018: June is bustin’ out . . . and almost over!

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 24, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/17/2018: What happens the week after The Tonys.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 17, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/10/2018: A Pre-Tonys Pick-Me-Up

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 10, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

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