In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom get the latest from Pete’s annual Broadway pilgrimage to see as many awards contenders (beginning with that ultimate contender, Rocky) as possible ahead of the Tonys, before heading to France for the Cannes Film Festival. With Cannes just days away, we survey the summer Oscar contenders and ponder whether any of them can “reverse the curse” of poor awards-season showings in recent years.
Best play: Act One, up $25,000 to $399,000, 37% of its potential and playing to two-thirds-full houses. All The Way, up $20,000 to $1.14 million, 74% of potential and 81% filled houses. Casa Valentina, up $65,000 to $276,000, just under half its gross potential but 86% full houses. Mothers And Sons, down $20,000 to $173,000, 22% of gross potential and struggling to fill 43% of the seats. Outside Mullingar (closed earlier after a limited run).
Best Musical: After Midnight, up $35,000 to $523,000, 52% of potential and 78% filled houses. Aladdin, down $17,500 to $1.177 million, 91% of potential, full houses. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, up $20,000 to $1.036 million, 94% of capacity and selling out. A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder, up $109,500 (the biggest uptick of any nominated non-revival) to $580,300, 65% of its gross potential and 93% of the seats filled.
Among the non-nominated new shows, Bullets Over Broadway was down slightly, If/Then took a bigger hit with a $76,000 drop, about the same for Rocky. The Bridges Of Madison County continued to struggle, down $65,000 and playing to 58% of capacity. The Realistic Joneses was holding on to nearly 90% houses and 89.4% of gross potential, suggesting …
Ticket buyers leave Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre feeling they got their money’s worth after the musical’s 20-minute balls-to-the-wall fight sequences, complete with spraying blood, clanging bells and the primal thunk of glove pounding flesh. How’d they do that? they wonder. Drew Hodges, the Broadway ad man who shook up the industry in 1996 with his mold-breaking campaigns for Rent featuring rough graphics, grimy looking punk photography and dare-you-to-see-this copy, entered the Tony Awards season this week with more game-changers that are separating the shows he represents from the sea of exclamation points and quotation marks that are the bread-and-butter of theatrical advertising.
Start with Rocky, which got middling notices on the whole but acclaim for Rocky’s championship fight with Apollo Creed. The ad for the show — a gritty photo of that climactic match — explains how the sequence was designed for maximum realism. A line from the photo leads to a box telling us, for example, that custom-made gloves were designed to allow the actors to land full punches without hurting each other.
Remember how Penn & Teller would open their act by telling us how magic tricks were done? It didn’t wreck the show. The same logic applies here. “You have to remind everybody how you are not like the others,” Hodges told me this morning at the midtown Manhattan offices of his company, SPOTCO. “Here, it’s not like we’re giving away a secret. The question is, Does the ad make them want to see it? Well, knowing things beforehand heightens the experience.”
Hodges and his group worked with Rocky director Alex Timbers to narrow down which effects to fit into the ad. “Alex gave us 20 ideas, and we may do another. It’s about the reality of the show, and people are loving that scene. The point is to freeze the moment.”
Producer Scott Rudin, who’s not connected with Rocky, sent Hodges a note calling it “the best ad of the season.”
“And no-one does shock and awe like Scott,” Hodges said, relishing the hat-tip.
Despite numerous “snubs” to the so-called Hollywood contingent that has taken Broadway by storm, this season today’s Tony Award nominations really prove just how reliant the Great White Way has become on movies. I’m not just talking those big stars such as Denzel Washington or Daniel Radcliffe (chief among today’s snubees), but the actual movies themselves. Nineteen of those nominations went to Broadway-ized musical versions of Disney’s Aladdin, Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and Clint Eastwood’s The Bridges Of Madison County. Only Aladdin scored a Best New Musical nom. But Allen was nominated for his book (his first foray into musicals) based on his Oscar-nominated screenplay. Kelli O’Hara was the key nomination of four given to Bridges Of Madison County in the same role that won the original movie’s sole Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep. Eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken is among the five nominations for Aladdin by reprising his Oscar-winning score and adding just enough new tunes to qualify for the Tonys too. Rocky’s leading actor Andy Karl grabbed the Best Actor equivalent of Stallone’s Best Actor Oscar nom in 1976 but is likely, just as Sly did, to lose to much stiffer competition in the category. But the musical version’s scenic design, with its spectacular boxing arena, is certain to be victorious on Tony night.