Sarah McCreanor fights Deadly Nadder in How to Train Your Dragon. (Photo Credit: Lisa Tomasetti)
A new generation of family shows is set to roar to life in North America this summer. With origins abroad, this new class of shows brings new players and cutting-edge productions to a market of arenas excited for new content.
“By the time we come to the United States we’ll have played in front of a half-million people in 12 or 13 countries,” explained Nick Grace, the new executive producer for Batman Live, an arena version of the Dark Knight commissioned by Warner Brothers Entertainment.
Following Batman is How to Train Your Dragon Live, a new arena show featuring 23 flying, fire-shooting, smoke-breathing dragons (some with 50-foot spans), produced by Michael Cohl’s S2BN in association with Dreamworks Theatricals, the producer of a film of the same name which grossed $500 million worldwide. Global Creatures, the New Zealand firm behind the amazingly real looking Walking with Dinosaurs show.
Rounding out the pack is Apassionata, a stunning horse show featuring beautiful Andalusians, Camargues and even a Zebra, set to an ultra-modern soundtrack.
“We’ve wanted to bring the show to the United States for some time, but the costs had been prohibitive,” explained producer Tanya Grubich, a long time marketer who had left her post with Allied Live to produce the show. Grubich got her live event chops working for Pace Entertainment in the 1980s.
Apassionata made its North American debut on April 27 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. The new show entitled “The Beginning” will kick off an 18-month, 66-city North American arena tour. The potential for strong business is there. Apassionata drew 33,000 people to three shows in Munich in 2011 and 28,000 to three shows in Hamburg.
The same goes for How to Train Your Dragon, which clocked in $3.4 million at Allphones Arena in Sydney with 15 shows, and $1.9 million in receipts at the Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre for six shows.
The Joker ascends during Batman Live.
Batman Live did $2.9 million at the 02 Arena in London on Aug. 24-Sept. 4 and will open in Anaheim, Calif., at the Honda Center before embarking on a tour across North America.
“Our technical director is Jake Berry who worked on the Madonna Tour and U2,” explained Grace. “We built it and designed it like a rock and roll tour. There’s 50 tons of equipment hanging in the air. It doesn’t change We tour in 23 trucks, we load in in two days and load out in four hours.”
As for How to Train Your Dragon, “we’re taking a spectacle that has fire breathing dragrons on a massive scale with a cast of over 20 people to tell a very unique story,” said Eric Stevens with Dreamworks Theatrical. “Our director Nigel Jamieson has done an incredible job pulling it all together.”
William Morris agents Clint Mitchell and Ryan Jones are booking the show.
“We haven’t announced a lot of the dates, including Staples Center in Los Angeles, but we’ll be back in year two.”
Interviewed for this story: Tanya Grubich, (917) 147-0220; Nick Grace, (323) 954-7510; Eric Stevens, (818) 695-5000