Disney’s Aladdin Finally Hits the Broadway Stage

Aladdin on BroadwayAladdin, a musical stage adaptation of the beloved 1992 Disney movie, has finally come to Broadway.  Previews began on February 26, 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, and the red carpet opening night will take place on March 20, 2014.

Based off of centuries-old folklore including One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin is the story of a street urchin who wins the heart of a princess with the help of a genie from a magic lamp.  With a musical score by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, the stage version incorporates additional lyrics and a book written by Chad Beguelin (Elf the Musical, The Wedding Singer).  The show is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone).

The cast is led by Adam Jacobs (The Lion King, Les Misérables) as Aladdin, Courtney Reed (In the Heights, Mamma Mia!) as Princess Jasmine, James Monroe Iglehart (Memphis, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as Genie, and Jonathan Freeman (The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins) as Jafar.  Freeman also played Jafar in the original animated film.  Furthermore, the musical features a trio of sidekicks to Aladdin, who reportedly were conceived and then discarded during the making of the original film, but who are now finally incorporated into this stage adaptation.  These roles are played by Brian Gonzales as Babkak, Brandon O’Neill as Kassim, and Jonathan Schwartz as Omar.

Aladdin is the newest in a line of Disney animated movie to musical theatre adaptations mounted by Disney Theatricals, whose producing history includes Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, and The Little Mermaid.  Three of these were enormous hits.  Beauty and the Beast ran for 13 years (from 1994 to 2007), grossing over $1.4 billion worldwide.  The Lion King has been a huge smash since its opening in 1997, and this past October it became the first show to gross over $1 billion from its Broadway production alone.  Mary Poppins also had a profitable run from 2006 to 2013, recouping its investment after only one year.  However, Tarzan and The Little Mermaid were notorious flops, failing to attract an audience despite the success of their precursors.  Therefore, Aladdin is not necessarily a shoo-in for mega-hit, but its fate will be more discernible when the reviews come out after its opening.

The show has had several out-of-town runs prior to its arrival in New York.  After its premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in July 2011, the musical has had stints in Ivins, Utah in June – October 2012, St. Louis, Missouri in July 2012, and it has just completed its official pre-Broadway run at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre, where it ran from November 2013 to January 2014.

It is not unusual for a musical’s producers to counter their risk by trying out a show in a different city before bringing it to Broadway.  In anticipating a Broadway run, producers may choose to enhance the budget of a not-for-profit theatre’s production of the show while retaining legal rights to the property, and generally while maintaining a degree of creative control.  Though they do not stand to profit monetarily from the early run, they can test the waters in the press to tweak creative elements before investing the whole Broadway budget, and they can also economize by keeping the same costumes and sets.  In certain cases, if the show really isn’t as good as predicted, they may even decide to cut their losses and put a kibosh on the Broadway run.  Though they would have lost their enhancement (often in the realm of one million dollars), they would be avoiding an eventual loss of much more (Broadway musical budgets can easily range $10 – $16 million).

In this light, the fact that Aladdin has had so many pre-Broadway productions implies that its producers were not satisfied with the quality of the first run and felt the need to make adjustments.  Despite any changes that may have been made after the first three attempts, Aladdin’s most recent run in Toronto still triggered a mixed response.  The Toronto Star said that A Friend Like Me was a show-stopping number, but otherwise the musical did not match up to its animated predecessor.  The Vancouver Sun predicted that kids may enjoy the spectacle and simple story, but that its gleam may be lost on adults who crave more complex characters.  Still, Canada’s National Post gave it a rave.  In any case, critical response does not always dictate ticket sales, and over time we may see the brand power of this animated classic overriding ambivalence from the press.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/23/2014

ALL THE WAY BEGINS STRONG BUT NOT ALL THE WAY YET
All The Way began previews just two weeks ago and already made the top half spectrum of the Broadway Show Ticket Analysis Chart (see below) with the Broadway ticket gross of $726,190.  Not too shabby for a Broadway show that has not even opened yet but Broadway ticket sales may be affected by the star playing Lyndon B. Johnson, Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston allowing the show to hold an average Broadway ticket price of $95.79.  Gross ticket sales may be high in relation to the other Broadway shows but average capacity of the Neil Simon Theatre was at a mere 66.64%. Achieving the gross potential for ticket sales will require the show to go All The Way!

MOTHERS AND SONS FEATURING TYNE DALY PREVIEWS
Mothers and Sons, featuring American stage/screen actress, Tyne Daly, began previews on February 23, 2014. Though it seems to be the lowest grossing show according to the Broadway Show Ticket Analysis chart below, it is only considering one performance. Next week’s sales should better indicate where the Broadway show stands in relation to the other Broadway shows.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 23, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $436,762 5,275 72.70% $82.80
AFTER MIDNIGHT $621,483 6,636 80.07% $93.65
ALL THE WAY $726,190 7,581 66.64% $95.79
BEAUTIFUL $913,047 7,849 95.63% $116.33
BRONX BOMBERS $140,446 3,462 56.35% $40.57
CHICAGO $484,604 5,585 64.64% $86.77
CINDERELLA $939,356 11,300 80.67% $83.13
JERSEY BOYS $734,020 7,635 77.72% $96.14
KINKY BOOTS $1,331,106 10,769 94.53% $123.61
MACHINAL $285,728 4,583 78.80% $62.35
MAMMA MIA! $549,515 6,982 74.85% $78.70
MATILDA $1,200,517 11,492 100.31% $104.47
MOTHERS AND SONS $29,638 485 60.47% $61.11
MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL $1,134,039 11,075 91.86% $102.40
NEWSIES $780,736 9,101 96.00% $85.79
NO MAN’S LAND/WAITING FOR GODOT $555,256 6,147 81.84% $90.33
ONCE $683,111 7,551 89.13% $90.47
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR $382,274 4,995 96.06% $76.53
PIPPIN $675,859 7,080 89.39% $95.46
ROCK OF AGES $348,778 4,221 90.50% $82.63
ROCKY $642,830 8,091 88.02% $79.45
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,616,666 8,752 102.63% $184.72
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $364,888 7,047 86.45% $51.78
THE GLASS MENAGERIE $652,206 6,137 98.60% $106.27
THE LION KING $1,754,208 13,585 99.89% $129.13
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $791,098 10,080 78.50% $78.48
WICKED $1,765,925 15,141 99.72% $116.63
Totals: $20,540,284 208,637 84.89% $92.42

The Glass Menagerie Concludes Its Run On Broadway

The Glass MenagerieThe critically lauded revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie finished its 24-week Broadway run this past Sunday, February 23rd 2014.  Starring Zachary Quinto (Angels in America, TV’s Heroes) as Tom, two-time Tony winner Cherry Jones (The Heiress, Doubt) as his mother Amanda, Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher) as his sister Laura, and Brian J. Smith (The Columnist) as the gentleman caller Jim, the production swept critics and audiences away with an essentially perfect record of critical acclaim.  Following its opening on September 26, 2013, audiences flocked to the theatre, allowing the show to recoup its $2.6 million investment with seven weeks remaining to reap profits.

Revivals are not always successful on Broadway, as it takes a truly eloquent reimagining for an older work to strike a chord with critics and audiences alike.  Director John Tiffany, who along with his award-winning design team from Once, crafted a magnificent recreation of Williams’ vision by surrounding the Wingfield family apartment with a pool of reflective black liquid.  The play made numerous top 10 lists at the end of 2013, celebrating this as a landmark production of the American masterpiece.

The production attracted a wide demographic due to the play’s classic status and national familiarity.  With its original New York production in 1945, this play became the first major work by Tennessee Williams and has now been produced a total of seven times on Broadway.  Williams is also renowned for plays such as the Pulitzer Prize winning A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, both of which have been revived numerous times, including in the past two years.  The Glass Menagerie was also adapted into two Hollywood films; the more well-known version, directed by Paul Newman in 1987, starred Joanne Woodward (Amanda), Karen Allen (Laura), John Malkovich (Tom), and James Naughton (Jim).

Williams is known as an autobiographical writer; as legendary director and frequent Williams collaborator Elia Kazan once said, “Everything in his life is in his plays, and everything in his plays is in his life.”  The Glass Menagerie is understood to mimic his life even more so than his other writing, as Williams (whose real first name is Tom) grew up with his neurotic, Southern belle mother not unlike the character Amanda, and his older sister named Rose who, like the character Laura, suffered from physical and mental instability throughout her life.  In writing this piece, Williams coined the term “memory play,” granting a poetic freedom to real life that has enabled this work to be particularly resonant.

This production transferred to Broadway from its original staging at Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, produced by Jeffrey Richards, John N. Hart, Jr., and Jerry Frankel.  The frequent producing team Richards and Frankel are represented this upcoming spring season with the following productions: Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way starring Bryan Cranston; Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Bridges of Madison County starring Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale; Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses starring Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, and Marisa Tomei; and Lonny Price’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill starring Audra McDonald.

Heterosexual Males Prove To Be An Elusive Audience For Broadway Producers

For many years, a Broadway show producers lament has been “What’s more difficult than making a straight play on Broadway financially successful?  Making a straight man buy tickets to a Broadway show.”

Traditionally, heterosexual adult males have been an elusive demographic for Broadway. In the Broadway League’s newly released survey of the 2012-2013 season, it was found that 68 percent of audience members were female, which reflects a trend that has existed for decades.  Though little research has been done into the sexual orientation of Broadway audiences, it is clear from phenomenological observation that gay male theatre-goers are not hard to come by.

Mad Men In The Movie Theatre

Mad Men Photo Courtesy AMC Inc.

Straight men, however, are a rarer sight – according to a recent survey, 82 percent of heterosexual males who saw Broadway shows ended up going either because their partner made them or because someone else had bought the tickets.

Nevertheless, producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo have taken up this challenge three times in the past four years.  In mounting three plays by Eric Simonson that deal directly with sports-related content, they have aimed to woo straight men to the theatre.  Lombardi, a story about the eponymous football player, played at the Circle in the Square Theatre from 2010-2011; this show completed a successful run of 244 performances and is now being adapted into a film by Legendary Pictures.  However, their last two attempts with Simonson sports plays (Magic/Bird in 2012 and Bronx Bombers in 2014) both incurred major financial losses.  Bronx Bombers, which just announced its premature closing last week, recouped only 24 percent of its $3 million capitalization and averaged only 63 percent capacity throughout its short run.

Bronx Bombers

Sports is not the only subject that producers have undertaken in order to attract straight men to the audience.  Politics is another male-dominated topic.  This upcoming Broadway season includes one promising political play – Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way, which tells the behind-the-scenes story of Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency during the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In addition to its manly themes of power and justice, the Broadway production stars Bryan Cranston, who is well-known for his role in AMC’s Breaking Bad – a record-breaking hit television show and a favorite with men in particular.  Box office wraps for this play were strong enough to land it in the top 10 last week, though it is still in previews.  Other recent Broadway favorites on political themes include Frost/Nixon in 2007 and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man in 2012, both of which succeeded in recouping their investments.

Still, the playing field is open for wildcard topics to draw in the straight male audience.  For instance, Rock of Ages, with its head-banging 80′s rock score, has proved successful with this demographic.  Furthermore, both Monty Python’s Spamalot, which grossed more than $175 million over 1,500 performances between 2005 and 2009, and The Book of Mormon, running at full capacity with top box office grosses since 2011, provide an irreverent brand of comedy that appeals to the heterosexual male population.  Despite these successes, however, it still remains a challenge for producers to attract straight men to their theatres.

Dodger Theatricals’ Matilda Offers Discount Tickets At The TKTS Booth, But Nowhere Else

Matilda  on BroadwayMatilda the Musical, which has been playing on Broadway since spring 2013, is well on its way to establishing itself as a long-running hit musical.  After being nominated for thirteen Tony Awards and winning five, Matilda’s sales remained at full audience capacity for the majority of the summer, and the production has grossed well over a million dollars every single week since last April – until two weeks ago, when Matilda fell below the million-dollar mark.  Still, between the inclement weather and traditionally slower sales season of January to February, this is not necessarily a warning sign.  For instance, this past week it was the third highest show in terms of increase in gross from the previous week (up $220,225).

Matilda is one of the Broadway shows that is least frequently represented at TDF’s discount booth in Times Square. Dodger Theatricals, who partnered with the Royal Shakespeare Company to bring the musical over from London to Broadway, initially chose to discount at the booth for only a handful of performances in these past two weeks. The discount was only in the range of 30 to 40 percent (other shows often discount 50 percent). But recently they have started discounting the maximum allowed at the booth, which is the full 50 percent. Oddly, they opted to offer discounts only at the Times Square booth, not online or at the other TDF stations at South Street Seaport and Brooklyn.  This bespeaks a hit show, with an odd twist – only a hit show has the luxury of declining the opportunity to discount, as ticket-buyers will be more willing to purchase at full price.  It makes sense that producers tend to minimize their discounts in order to maximize their gross potential and recoup their investments as quickly as possible, but show some desperation in going to the maximum discount allowed.

matilda broadway discount

Still, this raises the question of when and why producers should choose to discount.

Matilda has been hovering around 90 percent capacity for the past few weeks, and yet it did not always choose to discount – instead preferring to leave tickets unsold to create a manipulated ticket market by having less inventory.  It is a tricky balance – and one of the greatest challenges of shepherding a show as producer throughout its run – to choose when to discount, and when to hold out for full-price sales and risk leaving seats empty.  Broadway general managers devote countless man-hours to calculating the precise percentages and platforms on which to offer discounts in order to maximize gross potential.  But this decision-making isn’t all quantitative, there is also the qualitative concern of a show’s brand image.

Producers generally believe that when a show appears at the booth, ticket buyers will consider it to be less of a hit.  For instance The Book of Mormon, widely known to be a tough ticket, never appears at the booth.  Though Matilda sold over $12 million in tickets while it was still in previews, it hasn’t yet announced recoupment on its $16 million capitalization.  Once a show is in profits, producers can breathe a little more easily, but at this stage Dodger Theatricals may still be treading carefully.  Brand image is especially important in light of the fact that Matilda announced its US National Tour two weeks ago; the tour will kick off at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in May 2015.  It is important for out-of-town visitors to feel that Matilda is such a hot show that even if they don’t manage to snag a ticket during their trip to the city, they will be very excited to attend when the musical visits their hometown.  Therefore, even if selling the remaining 10 percent of seats at a discount may lead to a higher gross in the short term, such a choice could harm the show’s brand image over time.

Matilda The Musical

If producers do not discount anywhere else, they may choose to offer the show at the TDF booth because it is an easy last-minute option.  Unlike discounts offered through NYTix or telecharge e-blasts, which require the advertising agency to design a flyer and the general managers to advise on timing well in advance, producers can turn to the booth in a pinch if they notice one particular performance is particularly low in ticket sales.  Furthermore, booth discounts are not widely advertised; unlike direct mail discounts that arrive at homes around the country or ticket blasts that are sent to a slew of inboxes, the booth is a fairly private way to advertise discounts to tourists or New Yorkers who happen to show up that day and are rewarded with a whopping 50% discount on tickets to Matilda, something you cannot find anywhere else.  TDF’s website only shows discounts from the past week, and then they disappear from record, which also protects the brand from dilution.

Still, in offering discounts only at the Times Square TKTS booth and not on the internet or in-the-mail offers, are the Matilda producers favoring tourists and isolating locals from the lower priced tickets? Even Dodger Theatricals choice of the Times Square TKTS over the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn TKTS booths seems to yell at New Yorkers to stay away. Its true that locals can access the Times Square booth if they so choose, although it  tends to be considered by most as a dire tourist destination, avoided by locals in almost all circumstances. Also, If it wasn’t bad enough already, the huge pedestrian construction in Times Square right now is a further impediment to locals venturing there in search of those discount tickets. Therefore, Dodgers Matilda discount ticket strategy effectively prevents locals who cannot, or choose not to, pay full price from seeing the show.  In contrast, local New Yorkers actually keep the Broadway industry alive during the soft months, but Dodger Theatricals tendency to prefer the booth over online discounts or other forms of direct response,  may very well be ostracizing the regular ticket buying market, the very life blood of Broadway ticket sales.  Every Broadway show, however, eventually wears out its unattainability, and it can be expected that in the next year or two, New Yorkers will have easier access to affordable Matilda tickets as Matilda ticket sales are not showing anywhere the same steep sales yield curve as The Book Of Mormon did at the very beginning of their run. A show cannot survive on discounting at the TKTS booth alone, unless Dodgers are in fact out to prove that it can. It wouldn’t be the first time that the Dodgers have flown in the face of conventional wisdom.

Next month sees Disney’s Aladdin open and Matilda will soon face some stiff competition from Disney, who are the masters in this genre. The Dodgers do have a success on their hands in Matilda, just not the runaway success they had hoped for.

Super Bowl XLVIII Negatively Impacts Broadway Ticket Sales, Despite Positive Expectations

superbowl 48 trophyOn Sunday, February 2, 2014, the Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos, 43-8, winning the National Football League championship at the Super Bowl XLVIII. The game was held just over the Hudson River from New York City at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

As it turns out, the Broncos were not the only ones who could have used a better defense.  Though Broadway shows across the board adjusted performance schedules and made promotional efforts to engage the influx of sports fans flocking to the city, theatre ticket sales were at a disappointing low, with weekly box office grosses dropping $2.4 million and with 15,000 fewer tickets sold compared to the previous 7-day period.

Total ticket sales were only $16,714,694 in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, though they reached $19,122,428 in the preceding week.  The only shows to reach full audience capacity were The Book of Mormon and the double-bill Mark Rylance-led Shakespeare productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III.  Even long-running hits such as The Lion King saw a big drop in sales, decreasing 10 percent since the week before.  Although the total weekly gross for all productions was comparable to the total gross in Super Bowl week last year, there are presently four more shows running than this time last year.

In recent history, Broadway producers have seen non-weather related ticket sales slumps, the most recent during the Republican National Convention in 2004, when ticket sales dropped 22%. This time the slump was so severe, that the New York City Mayor may rethink efforts to bring other events to the area, like the Olympics, the World Cup or even the Stanley Cup. It may increase hotel receipts, but do little for the rest of the NYC economy.

superbowl-tobaggan-run

In honor of the football event, New York City and the Super Bowl Host Committee joined forces to carry out an unprecedented shutdown of 13 blocks in Midtown Manhattan.  As a result, traffic was restricted in the heart of Times Square on Broadway between 34th Street and 47th Street for the four days leading up to the game.  The officially dubbed “Super Bowl Boulevard” hosted a slew of events ranging from a toboggan run to an outdoor stage featuring performances by, among others, the Broadway casts of Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys.  Other shows – including Rocky, Pippin, Motown, Chicago, Mamma Mia! and Newsies – gave special performances in nearby Bryant Park.  Still, it appears the excitement of the game overpowered the convenience of the theatre district welcoming the flood of visitors with open arms. The “Super Bowl Boulevard” festivities felt crushed in the small space on Broadway, especially given that the Javits Center, on the West Side of Manhattan was the original location earmarked , but another event grabbed the booking.

Broadway producers, anticipating the conflict, made significant efforts to take advantage of the tourist traffic.  Broadway Week, an annual 2-for-1 ticket promotion, happened to coincide with the shutdowns, and every running production (with the exception of the confident hit The Book of Mormon) participated in the discount program – most likely aiming to attract Super Bowl theatregoers.  Furthermore, the Broadway League (calling themselves “the theatrical equivalent of the NFL”) released a press statement welcoming Super Bowl XLVIII to Times Square, providing a user-friendly map for pedestrians to navigate their way to the theatres, and announcing alternate curtain times to accommodate football aficionados.

Rock of Ages

One show, Rock of Ages, made multiple efforts to attract football fans.  The 1980s rock jukebox musical has traditionally done very well with the adult male demographic, which is unusual for Broadway musicals.  It therefore makes sense that they would take this opportunity to gain added exposure among sports fans.  In addition to performing a half hour set onstage at Super Bowl Boulevard on Thursday afternoon prior to the game, the cast made the journey to MetLife Stadium on game day, performing two sets outside the gates prior to kickoff.  In an even greater feat, the producers convinced three NFL stars to join the cast onstage at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, playing bartenders in four brief scenes for a temporary stint.  However, Rock of Ages was no exception in terms of poor box office performance; their gross was $60,000 less than the previous week.

Overall, despite positive expectations that the event might help rally the crowds to Broadway, the performance week was disappointingly low.  Presumably, the grosses might have been even worse had it not been for the Broadway League’s efforts to woo the scant few Super Bowl fans that actually did go to a show.  It is likely that the Super Bowl fans also booked all the hotel rooms in New York City, which meant that the normal tourists didn’t have anywhere to stay. Super Bowl Boulevard also served to distract the remaining tourists from going to the theatre, merely adding to the multitude of entertainment options available in Times Square.  Still, some of these marketing efforts may prove fruitful in the long run, having possibly increased national awareness of the current Broadway slate.

Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” Premieres On NBC To Great Fanfare

Jimmy Fallon on NBC's Tonight Show

It would have been hard for him to disappoint us.  On February 17th, 2014 Jimmy Fallon delighted audiences with an altogether successful inauguration as the new host of NBC’s The Tonight Show.  Stepping into the shoes worn by Jay Leno for 22 of the past 23 years, Fallon may not have struck a perfect balance between nervousness and humility in his first night on the job, yet he won us over with his coy charm and genuine gratitude for the opportunity to star in America’s longest running entertainment program. With Fallon’s initiation, the show has returned from Los Angeles to New York City, its original home from 1954 to 1972.  This has allowed Fallon to remain nearby his hometown of Saugerties in upstate New York – which made it relatively convenient for his parents Jim and Gloria Fallon, who sat proudly in the studio audience, to attend the premiere.  In Fallon’s opening monologue, he introduced himself as a 39 year-old man who lives in New York City with his beautiful wife Nancy and six month-old daughter Winnie, who is the best thing to have ever happened to him.  All in all, he succeeded in presenting himself as a loveable family man to whom the American public can’t help but relate.

jimmy-fallon-tonight-show

In one of the show’s more memorable bits, Fallon remarks that a buddy of his bet him $100 he would never host The Tonight Show.  Immediately, out walks an impressive procession of Hollywood stars and media icons, handing him $100: Robert DeNiro, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Joan Rivers, Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga, and finally, Stephen Colbert – who opted to spill 10,000 pennies over Fallon, including in his shirt.

In addition to being a major crowd pleaser, this episode served to contextualize Fallon as not only a nice young man, but one who must be really, incredibly cool to have so many famous friends show up for the occasion.  This also helped ground the new The Tonight Show amongst the particularly New York A-list.  Other celebrity appearances included Will Smith, who danced beside Fallon to demonstrate the ‘Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing,’ and U2, who played two songs in front of the New York skyline atop Rockefeller Center, harking back to the Beatles’ final concert on the rooftop of London’s Apple building in 1969.

Fallon’s premiere earned the third highest-ever ratings for The Tonight Show, with 11.3 million viewers tuning in.  The second highest was in May 2009 when Jay Leno stepped down as host for Conan O’Brien’s famously short-lived run, before Leno returned to the position one year later.  The highest was this past February 6th, when Leno retired for apparently the final time (14.6 million people watched).  Fallon’s debut likely benefited from its post-Winter Olympics placement, though that pushed it a half hour later than its regular 11:35pm timeslot.  In comparison to Fallon’s final episode of Late Night, which he hosted for 5 years, his The Tonight Show ratings were higher by 71 percent with an additional 6.6 million viewers.

Jimmy Fallon and Steven Colbert on The Tonight Show

These statistics do not necessarily include all the viewers of segments on YouTube, Hulu, or NBC’s own website.  One of Fallon’s best qualities is his ability to create share-worthy clips that are hilarious out of context, often which make serious people do silly things.  Still, for Fallon to stay atop his game in this new The Tonight Show job, he will need to appeal to the show’s middle-aged Middle America audience, while maintaining his viral fascination.  After all, the argument for Conan O’Brien to step down in 2010 so soon after beginning his tenure was that he had terminally narrow appeal, failing to please the older demographic.  Still, in just four years, our entire culture has become much more YouTube-centric, and perhaps Fallon’s internet-friendly strategy will be enough to keep him afloat.

 

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/16/2014

Twelfth NightBIG LEAP IN BROADWAY SALES
New York City keeps getting pummeled with snow and cold temperatures, but the freeze seems to be thawing at Broadway box offices. Total revenue increased considerably this week, with Broadway ticket sales jumping from last week’s $17,841,889 up to $21,192,762 this week.

SHAKESPEARE DOUBLE BILL CLOSES
Despite the Bard’s enduring popularity, it’s not often that Broadway productions of Shakespearean plays are certifiable hits, but the double bill of Richard III and Twelfth Night featuring Mark Rylance earned raves from critics and big bucks from audiences. Both plays closed this weekend, and enjoyed sold out performances and average ticket prices of $110.02 for their final week on Broadway.

ROCKY ENTERS THE BROADWAY RING
The brand new musical version of the classic Sylvester Stallone flick Rocky began preview performances on Broadway this week. Though it has yet to prove itself a box office champ, the boxing-themed show is off to a promising start, selling at 84.97% capacity with an average paid admission of $95.69.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 16, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $471,751 5,497 75.76% $85.82
AFTER MIDNIGHT $619,847 6,870 82.89% $90.23
ALL THE WAY $770,789 8,188 71.67% $94.14
BEAUTIFUL $901,903 7,497 91.34% $120.30
BRONX BOMBERS $177,559 3,844 62.57% $46.19
CHICAGO $571,596 6,380 73.84% $89.59
CINDERELLA $896,903 10,384 74.13% $86.37
JERSEY BOYS $725,805 6,499 66.15% $111.68
KINKY BOOTS $1,431,140 10,243 89.91% $139.72
MACHINAL $216,017 3,763 64.70% $57.41
MAMMA MIA! $550,858 6,908 74.06% $79.74
MATILDA $1,146,444 10,340 90.26% $110.87
MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL $1,197,720 10,977 91.05% $109.11
NEWSIES $748,187 8,910 93.99% $83.97
NO MAN’S LAND/WAITING FOR GODOT $606,324 6,544 76.23% $92.65
ONCE $665,473 6,304 74.41% $105.56
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR $362,896 4,916 94.54% $73.82
PIPPIN $717,058 6,277 79.26% $114.24
ROCK OF AGES $369,131 4,027 86.34% $91.66
ROCKY $373,672 3,905 84.97% $95.69
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,705,114 8,752 102.63% $194.83
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $348,594 6,424 78.80% $54.26
THE GLASS MENAGERIE $531,602 5,520 88.69% $96.30
THE LION KING $1,570,787 13,304 97.82% $118.07
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $766,994 9,164 71.37% $83.70
TWELFTH NIGHT/RICHARD III $944,755 8,587 102.13% $110.02
WICKED $1,803,846 13,810 95.43% $130.62
Totals: $21,192,762 203,834 82.78% $98.76

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2013 nytix.com

Robin Quivers New York TV Show Idea Finally Canned Following Cancer Scare

Robin Quivers is an American radio personality and actress best known for her longtime role as co-host and anchor since 1981 of The Howard Stern Show, which is now exclusive to Sirius XM Radio.  She published an autobiography entitled Quivers: A Life in 1995.  In 2004, Robin signed a television deal with Sony Entertainment to host her own talk show.  The show was set to premiere in the fall of 2006.  However, in March 2006, the idea was shelved, reportedly due to over congestion in the celebrity talk show market.  In 2012, she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, and provided commentary for The Howard Stern Show from her home in New York while she underwent surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.  After this arduous battle, at age 61, the plans for her television show have ofrobin quiversficially been dismissed.

Quivers is known for her trademark cackling laugh, as well as her controversial personality.  She has often publicly discussed how her father molested her at a young age.  In her second week on The Howard Stern Show in January 2006, she admitted to having once used vegetables and meats to pleasure herself.  She has a feisty rapport with Howard Stern; for instance, she once bet him $1 million that he would marry again, which he promised to pay her if he did.  She is very open about the fact she is unable to commit emotionally to her long-term partner, to whom she only refers as “Mr. X.”  Furthermore, she has exhibited volatile patterns with weight loss, having once lost 60 pounds in just eight weeks, which almost led to her demise.  Ironically, perhaps, she has served to promote the Master Cleanse weight loss technique.

Her extraordinary rise to fame began in a lower middle class neighborhood in Baltimore, growing up with two parents who only had seventh grade educations.  Her father worked for Bethlehem Steel, and her mother was a homemaker.  She then joined the military, climbing the ranks of the United States Air Force from Second Lieutenant to First Lieutenant to Captain, before she was honorably discharged and began her radio career.  After attending the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland, she worked at two radio stations in Pennsylvania, and then returned to Baltimore to serve as a consumer news reporter.  When she heard that Howard Stern was looking for someone to riff with, she jumped on the opportunity, and the two have been co-conspirators ever since. howard stern robin quivers

Quivers’ cancer scare did not sway Howard Stern’s devotion to her.  He stated that, if he ever lost her as a partner, he would quit radio.  At this point, she still participates in the radio show, but her poor health has determined that her longtime dream of hosting her own television show has become a lost opportunity.  It is unclear, however, if her talk show would have been successful.  Though she could have used her radio slot to promote her T.V. show, the demographic is completely off.  The primary demographic for The Howard Stern Show is single adult males, aged 28 to 54.  Daytime television, on the other hand, mostly attracts married women between the ages of 25 and 35, a demo that Robin has failed to reach despite her illustrious career.

Broadway Understudy Documentary Coming Soon to Theaters

The StandbysThe life of an understudy is unknown to most people, but soon that will change with the new documentary, The Standbys. The film about Broadway understudies will be released in movie theaters starting February 21.

The Standbys follows three Broadway actors: Ben Crawford (standby in Shrek the Musical and Big Fish); Merwin Foard (standby for Gomez in The Addams Family); and Alena Watters (standby for Anita in the West Side Story revival).

In addition to following those three understudies “through their ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, onstage performances and private lives,” The Standbys also includes interviews with a number of Broadway luminaries, such as David Hyde Pierce, Zachary Quinto, Bebe Neuwirth, Sutton Foster, Brian d’Arcy James, Katie Finneran, and Cheyenne Jackson.

To learn more, visit www.TheStandbys.com.