The Power of the Silver Screen

If you were to approach a random person on the street and ask them for the name of one Australian pianist, who do you think they would name? My money would be on David Helfgott, the inspiration for the famous movie Shine, for one main reason . . .


Movies are a very popular target for adaptation to the stage – because they are successful. We have had Hairspray, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Producers, Spamalot, Legally Blonde and many more. In fact, just in the last year we have had Matilda and Kinky Boots fighting it out in this year’s Tony Awards and last year’s Best Musical went to indie film Once.

Notice a trend. These aren’t just any old musicals that sell for a couple of months and then close. These are shows that have played for extended periods of time and toured the world. Why?

Well, one thing that very few consumers enjoy is risk. And when it comes to buying tickets for a concert, musical or play, high risk generally means low ticket sales because audiences don’t want to spend a large amount of money on an event where they are unsure of their potential enjoyment.

So if the show has come from a movie and the audience members have enjoyed that movie then the risk dramatically decreases. This is because while the offering may not be exactly the same, it will be rather similar which means that they will probably enjoy it and they won’t be spending a lot of money on a stab in the dark.

Well, Australian pianist David Helfgott is in town towards the end of this month performing two recitals of music that captured his soul. While purchasing tickets to another piano recital may be a big risk because of the unknown factor, the fact that this recital’s star inspired an entire movie that was loved by audiences around the world dramatically decreases the risk of any audience member.

Not to mention that the film won a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award. Some pretty enticing accolades that all increase the customer’s certainty that they will enjoy the show.

So what’s my point? Programming!

Successful programming looks at what the audience will want to come and see and then uses that to shape their offerings for the year – basically so that there are sufficient options for all kinds of entertainment buffs. And if you want your consumers to step a LITTLE BIT out of their comfort zone (and that is all they will be willing to step when you have high ticket prices), you have to back it up with some reasons why they should.

And a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award will do that for you!

For more information on David Helfgott’s Australian Recitals on the 20th and 27th of October at the Melbourne Recital Centre, visit