Can you ever have too much of a good thing?
Off the back of the immensely popular and massively awarded movie, Cameron Mackintosh has announced the return of the musical that started this whole craze to Broadway, Les Miserables. Surprisingly, the Great White Way is not the only place where Cameron Mackintosh is taking advantage of this new wave of popularity. Which begs the question . . . Can there ever be too much Les Mis?
Cameron Mackintosh appears to be attempting world domination through the music and lyrics of Les Mis as this Broadway production is only the start. The Broadway version will join currently running productions on the West End, Japan and a US National Tour and be joined by new productions opening in 2013 and 2014 in Korea, Toronto, Australia and Spain.
The catalyst for this musical revolution (pardon the pun) stems from the popularity of the movie musical which won multiple awards at the Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, British Academy Awards, London Film Critics Circle, MTv Awards etc. etc. etc.
Despite the broad appeal of the movie, whether this popularity will translate into high ticket sales is the big question!
No doubt, Cameron Mackintosh would argue that all the fans of the movie will be queuing up to purchase tickets to the new productions. Well only metaphorically queuing up, in reality they will be sitting at a computer pressing F5 over and over until the booking window opens. Regardless, the thought behind these productions is that the fan base for the movie will easily translate to a fan base for the musical.
Cameron Mackintosh also has the strength of Les Mis as an iconic musical in his corner, which means that wherever the show opens it has a high chance of selling well due to its history as an impressive musical. This history and the talk that it will generate will most likely encourage that elusive new audience of people who don’t usually visit the theatre to give it a go and invest in a ticket as the musical is rather risk-free.
But what would this post be if I didn’t argue against such a strong strategy? Well, yes it would be an advertisement. So here are some of my reasons why Les Mis may have some issues gaining high ticket sales:
Firstly, one of the major factors that contributed to the movie’s success was the big celebrity names that were cast. Any movie starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and the rest of the well-known cast list will perform well at the box office – especially if Russell Crowe isn’t singing. Chances are that the musicals will not have such a stellar cast list mainly due to the reason that there are so many running. For example, if the Broadway production could garner Hugh Jackman to lead the cast then chances are ticket sales would go through the roof.
However, at the moment he is scheduled for a new Broadway musical depicting the life of Harry Houdini which would clash. This could become a problem when fans of the movie who fell in love with Hugh Jackman decide to follow him rather than the story and spend their money with the new Houdini musical.
A similar thing could happen if casts of the musicals don’t live up to those of the movie. As a result, audiences go away disappointed with the quality of the musical and annoyed that they spent so much money on their tickets when the movie was much cheaper, which leads me to my final point.
People loved the movie. But the movie only cost them roughly $20. Will people be willing to tack on an extra $100 to the admission fee in order to see the show live, especially when they have such a high quality performance on DVD at home? This is really the real question. While you may enjoy a performance when it cost $20, you would expect a lot more for $120. This could lead the very high expectations for the audience which may not be realistic for the casts of these productions.
Regardless which side of the argument you believe, the next year will be a very interesting experiment in the willingness of movie fans to cross over to musicals. Chances are it will sell wherever it opens as it is a legendary musical, but whether it receives the same popularity as the musical . . . We will have to wait and see!
Which side of the argument do you side with? No fence sitting here! Let me know in the comments below.