Getting those muggles to your show!
Hot off the Press: J.K. Rowling is going back to the world of Harry Potter with a new film based on the Harry Potter text book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
After a number of books which failed to have the same societal impact as the Harry Potter franchise, J.K. Rowling has decided to return to her roots and create a movie out that will appeal to the huge market of Harry Potter fans. This film based on the fictional text book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is not a prequel or sequel to the Harry Potter series, but rather an opportunity to expand the magical world in which Harry Potter lived.
In laymen’s terms, she had so much success with the Harry Potter brand. So rather than risk ruining what is a pretty phenomenal force, she is going to try and build on it from a slightly different angle.
I have a strong feeling that this film will be just as popular as some of the other Harry Potter movies because the J.K. Rowling brand appeals to this market and there is plenty of evidence in the past that she is good at writing within this genre.
But now to the marketing . . .
Unfortunately for J.K. Rowling, her immense popularity meant that her brand was incredibly well-respected in the fantasy/young adult section of the market. However, brands don’t always transfer easily out of the section for which they are best known – as shown by the rather minor successes (comparably) of her future writing endeavours.
Translation – Once you have found a good thing, stick to it!
So what does this mean for the theatre?
It doesn’t mean a sequel because we have proved innumerable times that sequels will never work in the theatre, most recently Love Never Dies. But it does refer to writing styles.
J.K. Rowling is one of the best at writing fantasy. Stephen Sondheim is at the top of his field when it comes to writing slightly discordant and witty music. Andrew Lloyd Webber rules the classical/rock cross-over writing style.
And when they write shows in their respective styles, they are phenomenally popular. Consider Sondheim. We have Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George and West Side Story. The stories and settings may be different but ultimately they are writing in the same style that made them popular.
There is something to be said for playing to your strengths. And it definitely pays off in the theatre – a highly competitive industry where your past achievements determine whether your new offering will be a crowd favourite. Is there a single show that doesn’t emphasis the previous successes of the writer or the lead performer? Think about it. Every show that Stephen Schwartz creates contains the words ‘From the creator of Wicked’ somewhere on the marquee.
And if you have such a powerful brand, I only have two words for you . . . USE IT!