2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY AM: Following the ceiling collapse at London’s Apollo Theatre on Thursday evening, the Society of London Theatre released a statement on Friday morning. The cause of the incident at the Nimax Theatres-owned venue, which the BBC says injured 76 people, seven of them seriously, is still being investigated. One avenue to be pursued in the investigation, the BBC says, will be what effect a Thursday evening thunder- and lightning-storm may have had on the 100-year-old building. Performances of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, which is currently running at the Apollo, have been cancelled for Friday and Saturday. Here’s the full statement from the Society of London Theatre:
BREAKING: The producers of The Book Of Mormon opened the Tony winning hit Thursday night at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre. They’ve announced that the show set a record for the biggest single day of sales in West End and Broadway history on the day following. Yesterday, between 10:00 AM and Midnight, the box office did £2,107,972, or $3,210,019 in ticket sales. Some 150,000 additional tickets have been made available and the show is now booking until January 11, 2014.
Cameron Mackintosh, who owns the theater and has had his share of big stage hits said: “After a phenomenal opening night I am delighted to see a phenomenal record-breaking post opening box office of over £2m. The Mormons have truly delivered a Heavenly hit!”
The Book Of Mormon, with book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, is produced in London by Anne Garefino, Scott Rudin, Important Musicals and Sonia Friedman Productions. This is the latest of a swarm of broken records for the musical, which on Broadway has bested the Eugene O’Neill Theatre’s house record 44 times. The National Tour has continually broken house records across the country since opening in Denver in the summer of 2012, and the Chicago production holds the house record at the Bank of America Theatre. The musical, which won nine Tony Awards and a Grammy for Best Musical …
Warner Bros has given a green light to All You Need Is Kill, and that is why Tom Cruise has landed in London. He started prep on the Doug Liman-directed film last Friday. With the Danny Boyle-directed Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics unfolding Friday, it’s a great time to be in London. Cruise just wrapped the Joseph Kosinski-directed Oblivion in Baton Rouge and Iceland.
Miramax announced today that it is growing its worldwide sales organization by opening its first international office in London. As part of the initiative, former MGM Worldwide Television Group executive Joe Patrick has been promoted to run worldwide sales, and former Power Television CEO and Sony TV exec Danny Goldman has been hired as SVP and Head of Sales, Europe, reporting to Patrick and to be based in London. Patrick will work closely with SVP Global Digital Beth Minehart and continue to report to Miramax CEO Mike Lang. The new London office, in Covent Garden, is expected to be up and running this month. “Opening the London office as our European hub is an important step in our company’s evolution, and we are thrilled to have a presence on the ground,” Lang said in announcing the moves.
EXCLUSIVE: Ingenious, the UK private-equity fund that backed Avatar, has poached Lucas Webb, The Weinstein Company’s man in London, to run its Fox Searchlight arm. The financier announced in January that it was going to make between two and three Fox Searchlight movies each year in the $10M-15M range, injecting up to $14 million annually into the deal. Webb, who Harvey Weinstein himself tempted over from Miramax, is known for his work ethic. He has been keeping a close eye on TWC’s latest UK production, My Week With Marilyn, which is already being talked about as next year’s Oscar push from Harvey. Fox Searchlight and Ingenious worked together most recently on 127 Hours, Never Let Me Go and the forthcoming The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which Fox Searchlight will release this fall.
Lily Allen is writing some of the songs for the new Bridget Jones stage musical, which has staged its first workshop reading. I’m told this was a rough assembly of Helen Fielding’s script and some songs with the Billy Elliot creative team — director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling and associate director Julian Webber. Producer Working Title plans to bring the show to London’s West End next year. They’ll be crossing fingers Bridget Jones replicates the success of Billy Elliot, which has been seen by 4.5 million people worldwide and won 10 Tony awards, including Best Musical.
Hurrah. Some good news for the British Film Institute in the wake of its merger with the UK Film Council being cancelled. American Express will be headline sponsor of this year’s BFI London Film Festival this October. The credit card company will also support quarterly screenings at the BFI Imax, and the Screen Epiphanies series at BFI Southbank, where celebrities introduce and discuss films that have inspired them. Stars including John Hurt and Juliet Stephenson and director Sam Taylor-Wood have taken part. Amex cardholders will be offered priority tickets, the best seats in the house and “meet and greet” opportunities. The BFI won’t say how long the Amex sponsorship deal will last for, nor how much it is worth.
Amanda Nevill, director of the BFI, points out that 58% of the BFI’s total funding is self-generated. Our cheekychops culture minister Ed Vaizey has inserted himself into the press release, congratulating the BFI on how the Amex partnership is an excellent example of private business supporting the arts. It’s something the BFI’s going to have to get more adept at. Vaizey has just cancelled the BFI National Film Centre, leaving the institute to find the entire £166 million ($271 million) cost itself.
The Tate’s current chief operating officer will replace Richard Pulford as chief executive of the Society of London Theatre in November. Right at the top of Bird’s in-box will be trying to get the Olivier theatre awards on TV. This year’s awards had Keira Knightley and Rachel Weisz preening on the red carpet – not that you’d have known about it. Sunday opening and tax breaks for theatre investment will also be on his to-do list – although anything which costs the government money is going to be difficult sell in this climate. The incoming CEO will also have a difficult juggling act trying to ensure SOLT is not just the plaything of theatre owners but represents producers too. Bird, who has been with Tate for the past three years, has also served on the board of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.
The Prince of Persia star will be treading the boards in November, starring opposite Stephen Dillane in The Master Builder. Travis Preston directs from Kenneth McLeish’s translation from the original Norwegian. Previews start at London’s Almeida Theatre on November 12, and the play runs until January 8 2011. Arterton made her West End debut earlier this year in The Little Dog Who Laughed at the Garrick Theatre.
For those of you think that Arterton is just some James Bond totty, she spent three years at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Model-turned-actress she is definitely not. I remember walking through Rada, where they have pictures of that year’s alumni on the walls, coming across one moody black-and-white photograph of this incredibly beautiful girl, and wondering, “Who on earth is she?” The answer was, of course, Gemma Arterton. Her subsequent success makes me suspect that no matter how good an actor you are, it’s really about whether you’re good-looking or not.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha attended, as did rival Labour politicians Ed and David Milliband (they’re brothers and both competing to lead the Party). Peter Rice, head of Fox Broadcasting, was there, as was son-in-law Matthew Freud and daughter Elizabeth. Not many celebrities apart from comedian James Corden and TV presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Mariella Frostrup. This year’s event was held in the Orangery at Kensington Palace, Princess Diana’s old home.
The Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, and Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry, have been tapped as creative bosses of the London 2012 Olympics. Stephen Daldry will be in overall creative charge of the Olympics and Paralympics, while Danny Boyle will be artistic director of the main opening ceremony. Boyle, whose new version of Frankenstein opens at the National Theatre later this year, said that he wanted to create a “thrilling, enthralling and captivating evening”. Orson Welles once described moviemaking as the greatest train set a boy ever had. The Olympics seem even more so. The opening Olympic Games ceremony has long fascinated film directors. Chinese director Zhang Yimou spent £70 million ($105 million) designing the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing event. And then of course there was Leni Riefenstahl at the 1936 Berlin games.
Smashing story in today’s Daily Mail claiming West End theatre producers are trying to entice the Twilight star to tread the boards. Stewart has informally met one London producer and director, who presented the 20-year-old star with a list of possible plays. I’m hearing that the producer involved is David Pugh, who put Daniel Radcliffe in Equus. I’d love to know which stage vehicles were considered suitable. I know that Stewart is a terrific actress, but watching her being interviewed, she comes across as one long sulky teenage “whatever.”
Supporters of the cancelled TV show converged on London’s leafy Wandsworth Common last night to stage a mass “blackout.” Pretend blackouts, lasting for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, mimicking the opening of the show, also took place simultaneously in Edinburgh, Dublin, Pisa, Italy. European fans linked up with US campaigners trying to save the show. Mini-blackouts were staged in New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, where protestors fainted in front of ABC’s offices in Burbank. I’m not sure that a lot of people falling over will move the Mouse House to pity though.
Stage producers I’ve spoken to say the restoration levy charged by London theatre operators puts people off from going to the theatre. West End theatregoing is expensive enough, they say, without another charge being added on to the ticket price.
All the theatre chains have started adding between 75p and £3 ($1-$4.3) per ticket to help pay for building upkeep. Frankly, I think this is a bit of a con. I mean, if I go to a supermarket such as Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, they don’t ask me to donate money to fix up any of their stores. And cinemas don’t tack on a building-maintenance charge either.
On the other hand, producer Paul Elliott (The Shawshank Redemption) argues that at least theatres are being honest. Supermarkets still charge you a restoration levy – it’s just hidden in your shopping bill.
Each of the big UK theatre chains administers its own restoration levy. It is not collected centrally, which means you cannot find out how much has been collected in total.
Indeed, only Ambassador Theatre Group will say how much it has raised so far. ATG has generated about £300,000 through its £1 per ticket levy. The money has been spent on new seats and carpets, decorating public areas, upgrading toilets and installing air conditioning in theatres that had none. The group says the levy has given it the confidence to practically double the £2.5 million a year it used to spend on its sites: …
The studio ignored London mayor Boris Johnson’s plea to site the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over here rather than Florida. Johnson has called for the public to write to Warner Bros, petitioning for a second theme park to be built in London.
Mayor Johnson says it would be “utterly mad” to leave it to Americans “to make money from a great British invention”.
“I appeal to the children of this country and to their Potter-fiend parents to write to Warner Bros and Universal, and perhaps, even, to the great JK herself” Johnson has written in his weekly Daily Telegraph newspaper column.
It sounds as if Mayor Johnson left it too late anyway. He wrote to Warner Bros 18 months ago, well after the studio’s discussions with Universal Studios theme parks were underway. The mayor’s spokesman says Florida made Warner an offer London could not match.
Presumably, Warner Bros also shuddered at the labyrinthine planning permissions you would need to build a theme park in London. The studio wanted to build a theme park in Hillingdon, west London back in the 90s but the plan never came to anything.
Johnson makes the point that JK Rowling is no flash in the pan. Harry Potter is going to be with us for generations. After all, JK Rowling’s books have sold about 400 million copies compared with 250 million for Asterix and 160 million for Tintin. Fellow children’s authors Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter have sold …