Last week, the Tony Awards celebrated 70 years of awarding good musical and play productions. The hip-hop historical musical, Hamilton won 11 Tony awards of excellence. Hamilton took a risk with its nontraditional approach to a Broadway musical, but that was nothing compared to a new production now in development: Monopoly the Musical.
In a partnership between Hasbro and the Araca Group, Monopoly the Musical is said to be the first of a string of new projects by the pair, reports Yahoo.
While no information have been given on storyline, musical stylings or even a premiere date, Matthew Rego of the Araca Group sounds giddy about the new show explaining that he couldn’t divulge much information about the project except that “It’s not going to be a musical about people sitting around playing Monopoly. What turns us on is creating something that explores the world of Monopoly, kind of like the Lego movies have done with Legos.” He may have a point as many have wondered how a movie could have been built based on a building block toy, but it became a huge hit.
For better or worse, Hasbro has “toyed” around with creating entertainment based on its own products in movies and TV including the four financially successful (but critically panned) Transformers movies as well as other films that haven’t done so well like Battleship and Ouija. Hasbro is also responsible for the My Little Pony cartoon show which is based on the popular toy of the same name.
— BroadwayWorld (@BroadwayWorld) June 21, 2016
Monopoly the Musical is only the start of this new partnership with Araca. As a team, the two companies plan to reinvent Hasbro’s games and toys beyond the stage and screen to amusement parks, cruise ships, and what not. They chose Monopoly to begin the new venture as it is one of the company’s biggest and recognizable brands.
Araca is responsible for producing some of Broadway’s biggest hits including the Pulitzer-winning Disgraced, Wicked, and Shuffle Along as well as producing merchandise for other big hits like Matilda and Book of Mormon. Yahoo states that the two companies first made contact with a merchandise deal for Magic: The Gathering.
“Our businesses are quite similar,” said Simon Waters, Hasbro’s general manager. “We’re expanding our franchises and building immersive experiences. To bring our properties to life onstage is just the next level of immersion.”
Not only is tackling Monopoly a risky move by Hasbro, according to The Economist, the business of theatre is a risky venture in and of itself as only one in five shows actually make a profit. Shows like The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, and Book of Mormon have been huge hits but those are more the exception than the rule. Sting’s The Last Ship played for only 17 weeks last year when it closed to small crowds.
Novelty isn’t always a sure-fire way toward a hit either as Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark can attest. Comic book heroes may be all the rage in movie theaters, but Spider-Man is considered to be Broadway’s biggest money-loser of all time. The $75 million production was famous for its long delays and problems with its special effects, but even after the show was running smoothly, it never attracted a crowd big enough to keep the superhero flying. Years earlier, Carrie: The Musical, based on the novel and movie by Stephen King was another ambitious flop. After being shut down after just five performances in 1988, Carrie lost most of its $8 million budget.
It is estimated that we won’t be seeing Monopoly the Musical darken the Broadway doors for another three to four years, but Hasbro and Araca said that future productions will be announced in the coming months. What could next? Scrabble?
[Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]