The “Will It Recoup” Winner!

In case you haven’t noticed, summer is already winding down.  And that means the tourists are starting to head out of town, a few shows will be closing, and . . . it also means that it’s time to announce the winner of the first ever Broadway Fantasy Investment Game!

Back in freezing February, we looked at 9 limited run revivals and tried to determine which one(s) would make its money back.
Here are the final results of what did and didn’t make money this Spring, based on what has been announced in the press, what hasn’t been announced in the press, and a few inside sources:
33 Variations – NO
Impressionism – NO
Blithe Spirit – YES
God of Carnage – YES
Exit The King – NO
Irena’s Vow – NO
Reasons to be Pretty – NO
Mary Stuart – NO
Norman Conquests – NO

So who won?

Well, we had FIVE people pick the winners/losers perfectly.  Yep, this one came down to a tie breaker.

And the winner of the brand new iPhone 3S (which is awesome, by the way), is . . .


Congrats, Tom.  Your gift certificate will be in your inbox shortly!

A big shout out to the other four readers who would have made a bundle this Spring:  Michael Height, Ari, Dave Beef (something tells me that’s not his real name) and Megan.  You guys have got the goods.

And for the rest of you, don’t beat yourself up.  A huge majority picked at least one of the recoupers, and that’s pretty dang good.

In fact, if you were among the over 25% that thought that God of Carnage would recoup its investment, you’d be sitting pretty, because that investment would have paid for some of your other losers and then some.

Congrats, Tom!

Tony Nominations are Tomorrow. My picks for the big ones.

May Madness begins on Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM with the announcement of this year’s Tony nominations.

There are a few places to watch this year so tune in to either:
  • CBS’s The Early Show (which promises to show “some” of the categories).
  • NY1.  This is Roma Torre’s favorite time of year.
  • In the middle of Times Square on the JumboTron (someone please go and tweet a pic to me)
Below are my predictions (plus a few ‘type bytes’) on the nominations in the two big money categories (Best Musical and Best Play), enumerated in order of my confidence:
1.  Billy Elliot
Billy had us at hello.  Billy was a shoe-in for a nom (and a possible win) when it was first announced that the show was happening, and he won’t disappoint.
2.  Next To Normal
N2N is the Passing Strange of 2009 – the gutsy, artistic, “non-commercial” choice, that took a strange but courageous path to Broadway.  Nominators (and voters who like to look really smart) love these types of shows.
3.  9 to 5
Many shows like to open late in the season, in order to use the Tonys as free publicity at a time when they need the boost.  Unfortunately, if you’re not reviewed well, those reviews are fresh in the nominators minds when they head to the Edison cafe to pick the nominees.  That’s what happened to 9 to 5.  Nevertheless, Dolly’s charm beats Ben Brantley’s any day of the week, so expect a nom.
4.  Title of Show 
The fourth spot is the tough choice.  It’s the wild card.  You’ve got TOS, Rock of Ages, 13, Story of My Life, Tale of 2 Cities, and the big one . . . that twenty million dollar monster known as Shrek.

I think Shrek and Dreamworks will get Disney-fied (3 out of 6 Disney shows have not been nominated for Best Musical:  Aida, Tarzan and Little Mermaid).  And as much as I’m pulling for what I call a “Marisa Tomei” for 13 (Marisa shocked the world when she was nominated, and then won an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny), I think the fourth spot is a cage match between the scrappy and you-tubey Title of Show and the jukeboxy, and surprisingly well-reviewed shock of the year . . . Rock of Ages.

When it comes down to it, the insidery nominators will choose a show about their own industry that tells the story of how hard it can be to put on a show, over a show that just wants you to rock . . . hard.
1.  God of Carnage
This year has made a lot of people sick to their stomach. God of Carnage is this season’s Pepto.  Comedy is back, and that makes Carnage a cinch to lead the category.
2.  Reasons to be Pretty
Neil Labute made his debut on Broadway and he’ll make his debut in this category as well.  The real question is whether this solid play can compete in this market and stay around until the ceremony?
3.  Dividing The Estate
This transfer from Primary Stages had an all too short 10 week run on Broadway.  A possible extension was in the works, but the theater was booked (with the even shorter run of Story of My Life).  Hartford Stage did its part to keep the play in the minds of the nominators.  There’s a strong emotional movement ‘a foot’ to give Mr. Foote the Tony Award that eluded him (he passed away in March of this year at 92, which was too short of a run as well, if you ask me), and that will help secure the 3rd spot.
4.  The American Plan
The fourth Play spot is a tricky one with two major contenders:  Plan and Irena’s Vow.  While the subject matter and pure emotion of Vow is much more gripping than Plan, expect the nominators to give this spot to Mr. Greenberg, whom they know and love, rather than the Hollywood outsider, Dan Gordon.  Personally, I’d like to give Gordon kudos for taking a break from Hollywood and giving the stage a shot (If only more writers would do that).  Tovah will get a nom to make up for it.
Do you agree?  Disagree?  Have your own picks for tomorrow’s nominations?  Comment away!
Read tomorrow’s blog (or watch one of the viewing options mentioned above) to see how I did.
And make sure you continue to read throughout this awards season.  Our annual ‘Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool’ is coming up (prizes, prizes, PRIZES), and of course, I’ll be tweeting from The Tonys as the awards are given out.
So stay Tw-uned.

In other news . . .

A few links from around the web to other writers who have written about subjects we’ve discussed.

  • Here’s an interesting article about “Resisting The Desire To Discount” from Ad Age that seems like a follow-up to our discussion about whether or not discounts are eroding our market.
  • We talked about the reasons to be pretty art in this post, and now you can hear and see how that art was developed in this feature from the NY Times narrated by Drew Hodges, the President of SpotCo, one of Broadway’s leading ad agencies.  This is a great feature with some great insight on how art comes together (although a little birdie told me the art is about to change pretty drastically – my guess is that they start using photos of their cast).
  • Another article about the rising costs of Broadway from Bloomberg.  Obviously, I agree with the facts in the article, but I think they focused a little too much on the bad news.  There are still shows making money and there are still ways to make money . . . you just have to get more creative. However, I’ll shine a spotlight on the health insurance issue that Manny speaks about in tomorrow’s blog, so stay tuned.
  • There is maybe only one industry that lags behind Broadway in its reticence to take on new technology . . . and that’s organized religion.  So, when the church starts tweeting, you know twitter has tipped.  (Thanks to Adam for this news ‘tip’.)

If you stumble across anything that you think the rest of us would find interesting, please send it my way and I’ll share it!

And speaking of stumbling upon things . . . if you’re trying to be a part of the conversation in social media, make sure you stumble upon

– – – – –

Only 9 Days until the 1st Theater Bloggers Social!
Thursday, April 23rd.
6 PM
Planet Hollywood
For more info and to RSVP, click here.

Reasons . . . to buy a ticket. production that seemed the most marketing-challenged this Spring was the transfer of reasons to be pretty, and playwright Neil Labute, to the big stage.

What were the reasons for a consumer to buy a ticket?  Especially in this market?

Well, unfortunately, as the grosses indicated since the show began previews, there weren’t many (although I expect that will change, after last night’s raves).

Faced with no stars and a play with little buzz, the marketers turned to the script, smartly using the subject of the play itself to fuel a conversation engine.

They started with an arresting ad campaign that used the image you see on this blog.  Hard not to take a second look, isn’t it?

They continued that theme through their online identity with a mini-documentary (with more arresting images) that plays on their site as soon as you sign on.  The name of the site, by the way . . .

Is the doc about the play?  The author?  The actors?  No.

Perhaps knowing that what they had to work with in those categories might not stack up against the other 184 plays opening this Spring, the marketers chose a different pitch.  And what they ended up with is more creative, more unique, more of a conversation piece . . . and more likely to keep people on the site longer (Goal #2 of Internet marketing – for the other 2 goals, see next week’s piece).

I know I’m much more interested in seeing it now, aren’t you?  And I’m not the only one.

When you’re coming up with your marketing plan for your shows, take a honest look at your assets.  If yours don’t stack up to the competition, don’t try and compete.  Figure out what makes you unique and push it like you’re out to make Salt ‘N Pepa proud.

There’s no guarantee it will work . . . but it’s best shot you’ve got.

(The only thing I’d do differently with their campaign?  Well, they had naked people in the ad.  They had naked people in their documentary.  I’d have naked people on the street.  Seriously, that street teamer below should not be wearing any clothes – more likely to get attention, and more likely to be recognized as being part of their campaign.  And those signs will cover the good stuff from being seen anyway.)