3 Things the theater can learn from the Oscars

84th_Academy_Awards_Show_05b71Sometimes I wonder if NYC will ever declare Oscar Sunday a city-wide holiday.  I mean, the streets are already deserted, people are having dinner parties . . . all we need to do is suspend some parking rules and bingo – instant holiday.

The Academy Awards are perhaps the biggest award show of any kind in the entire world.  I watch, not because I’m a big movie buff, or because I have money in an office pool or anything.  I watch to see if there are any tips the theater can pick up for our big awards show (The Tony-Tony-Tony), or for our industry in general.

Here are three things I gleaned from Sunday night’s big show:

1.  Nominate the number of good ones, not just a number

The Oscars changed up the number of nominees for Best Picture again.  Now it can be anywhere from five to ten (this year it turned out to be 9).  While we don’t have as many possible nominees to choose for our Best Play or Best Musical Tony Award, there are years when there are more than four great shows written, and call me crazy, but when that happens, we should nominate more than four.  This accomplishes both goals of Awards shows:  1 – it recognizes more artists, 2 – it helps market those shows.

2.  Embrace the international community.

The tiebreaker for my office Oscar pool should have been, “How many different accents will you hear during acceptance speeches?”  Italian, French, Pakistani, were just a few of the native languages of some of the winners.  While we can’t nominate productions actually seen in other countries, perhaps there is a way to honor some?  Or perhaps we can honor those artists?  Or perhaps this doesn’t have anything to do with awards, and our industry should just start producing more international works.  By demonstrating that theater is a unifying global art form, we could increase its awareness.  Or maybe it’s time for this idea.

3.  Just because it isn’t a blockbuster doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Independent film has been kicking A at the Oscars for a number of years. Off-Broadway is the Independent Film of the theater world.  It’s time for its own award.  Just one.  Even if it’s an Achievement Award, or a Citation of some sort.  Recognizing the work done by Off-Broadway artists is a way to make sure that they keep slaving away for the theater . . . and don’t run off to Hollywood.

Movies have a tremendous advantage over theater.  Because it’s so much easier to distribute movies throughout the world faster and cheaper than it is to distribute theater throughout the world, the products and the people are able to attract more attention, more revenue and therefore more power.

But, as I tweeted on Monday morning . . . you know what the most exciting moment of the Oscars was for me and so many of the 30 plus million people watching around the world?  The live theatrical performance by Cirque du Soleil.

What makes it more difficult for us, is also our greatest asset.

 

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End of Q3 Broadway Grosses report: Only 1 more to go.

I really can’t believe we’re about to enter our 4th and final Quarter of the year.  The year has flown by.  It seems like yesterday we were counting up the number of Tonys Book of Mormon was going to win, and we’re getting close to T-Time again soon.

But how’s business?

Here’s how the season is stacking up after three quarters:

Season to Date Gross:  $820,688,397
Last Season to Date Gross:  $769,572,296
Difference:  A whopping 6.6% increase

Season to Date Attendance:  8,829,459
Last Season to Date Attendance:  8,762,097
Difference:  A paltry .8%

Season to Date Playing Weeks:  1070
Last Season to Date Playing Weeks:  1113
Difference:  a “what the f” -3.9%

So let me sum up . . . massive increase in the gross, an almost flat-lined attendance, and a significant drop in the number of shows.

What does this mean?

Well, if you’re a megahit, like the aforementioned Book of M, then you’re as happy as a clam that you didn’t get picked for Carousel‘s clambake, because you’ve been using variable pricing to suck every cent from the consumer during peak times.

See, what would be better for the other shows out there, would be if the attendance would be going up as dramatically as the gross, as that would mean more people are going to the theater (in the defense of these stats, having such a drop in the playing weeks, but still posting a positive attendance gain is palatable).

Unfortunately, these statistics indicate that Broadway theater is becoming more elitist than it was before, and because of the success of the megahits, the middle-of-the-road shows are having a harder time scraping out their nut each week.

We’ve got 13 more weeks left.  Where will we end up?  Well, Q2 includes the “why can’t it happen 3x a year” Christmas week, so I don’t think we’ll be able to continue to support that enormous gross increase.  I’m predicting that the gross will be up over last year about 5.9-6%, and attendance rising about 1% (the new shows this Spring should bring us some more bodies).

In the meantime, I’m dying to do a survey of those premium ticket buyers . . . does paying $400 for a ticket decrease the amount of theatergoing they are doing?  In other words, if they previously went to the theater three times a year, are they now going only twice because they are paying so much for that super hit that they “must” see?

I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

 

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

——

FUN STUFF:

– Win 2 tickets to my reading of Garage Band!  Click here.

– Join me at the NY Cares Soiree!  Get tix here.

– Take the Musical Boot Camp!  Click here for info and an application.

– Broadway Road Trip from DC on 4/28.  Click here.

Who won the tix to Russian Transport at The New Group?

Ok, the consensus is . . . we need more Saturday Night Live actors on the Broadway!

My favorite and the winner of the tickets to Russian Transport at The New Group is . . . Alan B. for his suggestion of Chevy Chase as J.B. Bigley in How To Succeed!

What an awesome idea.  I hope the producers are reading.  😉  And Alan, I hope you’ve started thinking about opening a casting office.  I’d hire you.

Congrats on the tix.  Email me to set them up.

Just got a tip that we’ve got really great giveaways coming up, including a bunch of the very high profile Spring Broadway shows.  Make sure you subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss the chance to enter.  Just put your email address into the blue box in the upper left corner and you’re in.

See you tomorrow with two more tickets to giveaway.

 

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

——

FUN STUFF:

– Join me at the NY Cares Soiree!  Get tix here.

– Take the Musical Boot Camp!  Click here for info and an application.

– Broadway Road Trip from DC on 4/28.  Click here.

TEDx Broadway videos are live.

One month ago, almost to the day, several hundred passionate people converged on New World Stages for the first ever TEDxBroadway conference.

It was a very exciting day, with great speakers from our industry like Jordan Roth, Greg Mosher, Randy Weiner, Damian Bazadona and many more.  And it also featured great speakers from outside our industry like Patricia Martin, Barry Kahn, Steve Gullans, Juan Enriquez and, you guessed it, many more.  (You can read some takeaways here.)

And I was fortunate to have been given a few minutes to speak as well.

Part of the TEDx mission is to make sure that people who were interested in attending, but couldn’t make it, get a chance to watch/hear what happened through online videos.

And I’m thrilled to say that our videos went live yesterday!

You can check them all out here.

Listen to Randy Weiner talk about producing a show with no marketing budget. Listen to Barry Kahn talk about a central box office for all of Broadway.  And hear performers Matt Sax and Joe Iconis blow the roof off the joint with their incredible music that we’ll all be hearing more of in the next twenty years, I’m sure.

Oh, and maybe, just maybe, if you watch mine, you’ll see my first ever headshot.

Watch them all here:  TEDxBroadway Talks on YouTube

And get ready, because we’re going to announce a save-the-date for TEDxBroadway II.  And unlike most sequels, this one promises to be even better than the original.

 

 

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

——

FUN STUFF:

– Win 2 tickets to see Russian Transport at The New Group!  Click here!

– Join me at the NY Cares Soiree!  Get tix here.

– Take the Musical Boot Camp!  Click here for info and an application.

– Broadway Road Trip from DC on 4/28.  Click here.

 

The Sunday Giveaway: 2 Tickets to The Mountaintop

If we were playing Will It Recoup this fall, here’s a show I would have put my money on.

Samuel Jackson, Angela Bassett . . . and the biggest star . . . Martin Luther King Jr!

The Mountaintop only has about 5 weeks left it in its high grossing limited run on Broadway . . . but one of you is going to see it for free!

I’ve got 2 tickets to this star-packed show to giveaway.  And here’s how we’re going to do it.

The Mountainop is a historical docudrama (one of my favorite types of theater) that takes place the night before MLK’s tragic assassination.

Tell me the name of a historical figure you would like to see ‘storied’ in a play.  Bonus points if you name the actor you’d like to see play him or her.

Ready, set, comment!

 

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

—————-

FUN STUFF

– Come to the 4th Annual Producer’s Perspective Social on 12/15!  RSVP today.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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