In light of the expected Hamilton DVD/Blu-ray announcement tomorrow (EDIT: it was just an app) I've been prompted to explore a question I've been asking for years, which is why don't we see more pro-shot musicals on DVD? Yes we're all familiar with the well-known recordings of the Les Mis dream cast, multiple Sondheims, and more recently Shrek, but why aren't producers jumping on the opportunity to film their productions for commercial release?
I get that there are up-front costs of production but they're negligible compared to the potential return. And investing in musicals is all about playing the long game, especially considering "shows generally take 8-12 months to recoup if ticket sales are good".
There's also the question of bootlegs. How many of you tried to get a copy of the Hamilton bootleg that temporarily made the rounds? Composer/lyricist/book-writer Lin-Manuel Miranda famously took a Tumblr user to task for requesting a copy, but is any bootleg ever really going to replace a live performance? It's not like people are trying to avoid going to the theatre by watching bootlegs instead! And the few I've seen are such low quality that they often don't do the show justice anyway. Certainly not enough that I won't buy a ticket to see the actual show when I can. People are creating/seeking bootlegs because they're interested in and excited by the work. Interest and excitement that could be turned into potential $$$ for the producers/writers.
I started thinking about this when we first heard of The Book of Mormon. I had friends make the trip to Broadway specially so they could laud themselves over us lowly peasants because they got to see the show before anyone else in Oz. And the same has been happening with Hamilton, Waitress, etc. But what about those poor sods left behind? I'm sure they'd love to be able to see the show before it hits their local town and special trips to NYC aren't a viability for everyone. But I bet they'd happily buy a DVD to sate their appetites in the meantime. And then, when the show finally does get here, I guarantee they'll still buy a ticket to see it.
So that's the thing. If there already was a Hamilton DVD every single musical theatre nerd in the world would without a doubt have a copy. And then they'd also buy a ticket to see the show at the earliest opportunity, only adding to the producer's income. Hamilton was originally rumoured to be heading to Australia this year but now it's more likely going to be next year at the earliest. However the producers could have been making money off us already, and continue to do so until we're finally graced by its presence, if there was an official, high-quality DVD that, to paraphrase Lin, allowed us to "hear it [and see it] RIGHT" while we wait.
So what do you reckon? Would you buy a DVD of a show and then not buy a ticket to see it in person? Which shows would you love to see on DVD? Let us know in the comments 🙂