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Excellent Blog Regarding Filming Live Performances / UK debuts new 'Netflix for Theatre'

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CapnHook
Broadway Legend
joined:5/12/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/12/03
http://www.theproducersperspective.com/my_weblog/2009/10/netflix-for-theater-its-here.html

There have been dozens of discussions here on BWW regarding professionally recording Broadway shows for DVD/TV/Cinema/Pay-per-View. My sentiments all along has been that when a show announces its' closing, there should be plans to professionally record it for some sort of distribution.

It's another way to make money while also having the benefit of preserving the work. What Mr. Davenport doesn't address, however, are the costs in producing a professional recording. Just how much does it cost to get a camera crew in there, pay the film director and editors, etc.?

I asked Lonny Price his thoughts about why more DVDs aren't make of shows. His response was that the demand was very very high, however the costs doesn't make it worth it. He used CANDIDE as an example. He said it cost $2 million to record the concert of CANDIDE, and they would be LUCKY if they got *half* of it back.

So is it worth it, financially? Those numbers aren't available to us. But I would *LOVE* to know how much money it took to record & distribute RENT, and how much they made from the theatrical release and DVD sales.

And as for a DVD of the show "hurting" sales for the show on Broadway/Tour...well, I think that argument is no longer valid. When A&E recorded PETER PAN, it certainly didn't hurt the tours that followed. When MTV recorded LEGALLY BLONDE, it didn't close the show and it created a new fanbase for the Tour.

IN THE HEIGHTS, JERSEY BOYS, THE LION KING, MAMMA MIA!, MARY POPPINS, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, SHREK, and WICKED are all shows I think make the most sense to record for DVD.

Disney, especially, lost a lot of opportunity with their shows. If they had recorded BEAUTY & THE BEAST, AIDA, ON THE RECORD, TARZAN, and THE LITTLE MERMAID...those DVDs could be raking in the dough. Look at all the different types of people to market to:

-Theatre fans
-Children/Family
-Disney fans
-Theme park visitors
-Disney Cruise Line Pay-per-View
-Disney Hotel/Resort Pay-per-View
-Disney Movie Club
-People (especially kids/teens) wanting to watch to reference for amateur productions

Last time I was in the city, a group of 4 college-aged girls were in line and we got to talking. They said they were going to see BEAUTY & THE BEAST. I had to break the news that the show had closed and THE LITTLE MERMAID took the theatre. They said I was wrong because they had seen advertising for it, and sure enough they got to the window and the teller confirmed what I had said. So they saw THE LITTLE MERMAID instead. If these girls got to the theatre and they were selling DVDs of BATB, would one or more of those girls have bought it? Who knows...but they never had that opportunity so we'll never know...
"The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry. For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation and actors. Besides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet."
--Aristotle
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TaleofTwo
Broadway Star
joined:9/30/08
Broadway Star
joined:
9/30/08
I think RENT was the most successful of all the recent recorded shows, and more shows should follow them- And as it looks right now, Shrek is doing exactly the same.
In the past shows were generally recorded either for PBS (and those were the more "artistic" ones, no big commercial Broadway musicals) or when Japanese producers agreed to put the money (Victor Victoria, Will Rogers Follies, etc), but today more and more producers think about following RENT's path.
There's a list of all the recorded Broadway shows on http://www.broadwaycaptured.com ...
“Movies will make you famous; Television will make you rich; But theatre will make you good.” ? Terrence Mann
Updated On: 10/30/09 at 03:47 AM
jo
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/15/03
Included in that list of recorded musicals is the Royal National Theatre's OKLAHOMA!, with Hugh Jackman.

That was not a recorded version of the onstage production, but a filmed version on a sound stage, with some inside-the-theatre scenes inserted into the film. I do not have the link anymore but an official site of KODAK which provided the cameras quoted something like the equivalent of US $ 4 million to film it at that time ( 1999). The filmed show was initially distributed in the UK and then shown on PBS and distributed in the USA on DVD format at the time of the Broadway opening of The Boy from Oz. No one knows if it had made back its cost of filming the show.
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CapnHook
Broadway Legend
joined:5/12/03
Broadway Legend
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Very true, jo. With a title like "Oklahoma" and a movie star like Hugh Jackman, it'd be interesting to see how that crossed markets and if it turned a profit.

That wasn't the first "sound stage" production of a musical. It's also been done with PETER PAN (Mary Martin), Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA (1960's), JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, CATS, and possibly two others I am forgetting.

I wonder if there is some benefit to using a sound stage rather than filming in front of a live audience/actual stage & no audience. Personally, I'd much rather have it recorded in the space it played and with the audience.

Both RENT and PASSING STRANGE were filmed expertly.
"The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry. For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation and actors. Besides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet."
--Aristotle