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The Wonders Of 'War Horse' (DVD On The Way)

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The National Theatres smash hit production of 'War Horse' is galloping towards being one of the most successful productions the West End has ever seen.

Three years after it premiered in the NT Olivier, the stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse continues to be the National’s biggest earner – and, according to NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner, speaking at a press briefing held today on publication of the NT’s 2009-10 Annual Report, it’s the “stroke of good fortune” that’s most likely to see the National through the harsh funding times ahead.

In the transfer at the New London, 'War Horse' took a whopping £13.2 million at the box office in the last financial year, ended 30 March 2010 (on top of the £2.7 million and £2.3 million it made in the previous two years in its first two South Bank runs). And, as the sole producer of the West End production, the National reaps the full benefit – an additional £2.5 million surplus for 'War Horse' alone after expenditure.

Overall, 'War Horse' accounted for a full 20% of the NT’s £64.5 million income for the year – compared with 27% from the box office of all its other productions combined, 9% from fundraising, 14% from trading and other matters and 30% from its Arts Council Grant of £19.3 million. The reduction in the proportion of turnover from subsidy is dramatic – and quite recent. In 1980, subsidy accounted for 60% of the National’s turnover; as recently as 2002, it was still nearly half.

Also significant is the figure of £64.5 million – which represents a doubling of turnover in just eight years. The 2009-10 year ended with an unrestricted operating surplus of £495,000.

'War Horse'’s contribution to the NT coffers will only grow in future. After the success of a TV advertising campaign, the West End production is now carrying an advance of £2.1 million. It will be followed by an opening in Toronto in January 2012 ahead of New York (of which the NT is financing 30%), a US tour launching in summer 2012 and an international tour launching that autumn. The theatre will also receive more income from the 'Making of War Horse DVD' (its first self-produced documentary) and share in royalties from Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming film adaptation of 'War Horse'.

Thanks to 'War Horse'’s 400,000 West End customers, the National also achieved record attendances of 1.2 million for the year, averaging houses at 90% capacity. However, 'War Horse'’s phenomenal popularity does mask a slight dip in performance at the National’s three-auditoria South Bank home, where, despite the introduction of year-round Sunday matinees, attendances were down year on year at 784,000 attendances (versus 817,000 in 2008-9) and 89% capacity (versus 93%).

Hytner said today that overall figures were impacted by last Christmas’ family production of Terry Pratchett’s 'Nation', which failed to emulate the success of 'War Horse' or the NT’s earlier children’s book adaptations, 'Coram Boy' and 'His Dark Materials'.
The NT staged a total of 26 productions in the year, 20 of them were new production and, of those, nine were new plays. Hits included David Hare’s 'The Power of Yes', Alan Bennett’s 'The Habit of Art', Katie Mitchell’s version of Dr Seuss’ 'The Cat in the Hat' (the NT’s first show for three- to six-year-olds) and revivals of 'The White Guard', 'Phedre', 'Mother Courage and Her Children' and 'London Assurance'.

Other major developments in the period included the full launch, after an initial pilot, of NT Live, which the National aims to extend to more screenings (nine per year) and more companies (Complicite and the Donmar Warehouse are part of the already-announced second season). Last week, it was also granted planning permission for its long-discussed building renovations, now running under the project tile NT Future; the first gift of £4 million has already been received from the Monument Trust to realise these plans.

Taking 'War Horse' and other such entrepreneurial opportunities as benchmarks, Hytner said that the National will weather the arts funding crisis ahead by “doing more and making more money”. And come what may, “we don’t intend to significantly reduce activities or to raise (ticket) prices”. Nor, as he’s said many times in the past, are they “going to respond to hard times by putting on an apparently safe repertoire – because I don’t believe a safe repertoire exists any longer”. They will continue to be “big, bold and risky” and they will work hard to share their expertise and good fortunes with other “more vulnerable” subsidised companies.
As his NT executive director Nick Starr added: “This place works best when it’s working at full throttle.”
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Sean2
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Thank you so much for posting this! Personally I'm very happy that the NT has such a hit on its hands. For so many young people it will be their introduction to the theatre, and what an amazing experience it must be. Particularly since so many people have little experience with just what theatricality really means.

And I have to admit. I love 'War Horse'. I become such a big baby.
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While I was not as much a fan of War Horse as I expected, I am really happy about the cash it is raising for the National. Hopefully this will continue when the Speilberg film is released.
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The movie will be OK but I urge people to see the play BEFORE they think about seeing the movie.
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I saw War Horse this past May and was overwhelmed. I just came back from a week in London with fellow theatre people and we went again. It was "voted" best of the 7 shows we saw. I think it is a remarkably well done piece of theatre.

But this is the first time in recent memory when I didn't see a single show at the National -- nothing there currently pulled me in.

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I must be the only person on the planet who is not excited about this. lol Nothing I've read or seen about the piece has encouraged me to go to see the play - so the prospect of a movie does not interest me much either. I know I should go to see the play to find out what it's like - but I'm reluctant to pay that sort of cash for something that does not appear to be remotely like the kind of play I would enjoy.
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
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No, you're not the only one who isn't excited by this. I wasn't either -- at all. It sounded trite and silly -- a children's story with big puppets?
But I went and was simply overwhelmed. Twice.

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Bob, I would be knocked sideways if you didn't like this production.
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Mama, I just can't see what there is that I would like. It seems gimmicky and overtly sentimental with a storyline that does not interest me in the slightest. I know I could be proved wrong but as I said £50ish is too much money to pay out for something that does not appeal to me. (I need to find myself a comp LOL.) Also my views are coloured by the fact that a few years ago so many people urged me to go see Coram Boy saying it was fantastic, so I went - and I thought it was absolutely dire.
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
Updated On: 10/19/10 at 03:46 AM
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In what way gimmicky? The puppets are about the most practical and even realistic way of representing those characters.

It is sentimental, but I don't see why that's a bad thing if (as here) it's justified sentimentality.
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The Wonders Of 'War Horse' (DVD On The Way)#10
Posted: 10/19/10 at 6:53am
Perhaps "gimmicky" is the wrong word. It's just the whole puppet thing turns me off - just a personal thing, I suppose. But even without that - the story just does not interest me. It's just not "me". lol
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
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The Wonders Of 'War Horse' (DVD On The Way)#11
Posted: 10/19/10 at 7:22am
Bob I'm with you-while I might be proved wrong if I saw it nothing I've seen so far has motivated me to want to see it *that* badly.

I'm not a fan of puppets or overly sentimental pieces and while if I actually saw it I might change my mind those things are putting me off. And I'm a 'Horsey girl' and former History teacher too! (I did love 'Private Peaceful however)
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The Wonders Of 'War Horse' (DVD On The Way)#12
Posted: 10/19/10 at 8:25am
SoonerOrLater - what a coincidence! I taught history for 20 years and then got out of teaching while I still had my sanity. lol
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
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The Wonders Of 'War Horse' (DVD On The Way)#13
Posted: 10/19/10 at 11:47am
I would like to say 'Warhorse' is a excellent production, but I can't.......I have to settle for a brilliant production.
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The Wonders Of 'War Horse' (DVD On The Way)#14
Posted: 10/20/10 at 3:28am
Bob-how strange! I escaped after a year to the safety of higher education and that's where I intend to stay lol!

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