A fine morning aroma of coffee encircled my room; here comes my mom to wake me up and say “happy birthday” with a present of new outfit along with a pair of high heel shoes which I had always aspired to own. As every birthday my parents made my 10th birthday very special, by taking me along with my 14 year old brother to a lunch at the then famous restaurant Nandhini Paradise in Bangalore and for a movie called The Lion King. It made a lasting impression on me as it was a dream come to true to watch musical animated movie on a big screen for the first time. Appealing story and breath taking performances has encapsulated the minds of audience leaving such amazing message to ponder. Although it is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet it seemed very close to Indian philosophies. Later this story was adapted to Broadway in the year 1997 leading it become first ever show to gross $1 billion.
The Broadway Theater District is a popular tourist attraction in New York City.Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, are theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theaters with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway in the Manhattan borough of New York City.
The leading character Simba in The Lion King still lingers in my mind, not just me but many millions of people who have seen its original movie in 1994 and then 3D version in 2011 along with its Broadway version of stage play continually since 1997 across 16 countries. It makes me wonder -How can people watch same story again and again at Broadway? How Disney is able to keep or rather increase their viewership? It is not just the artistic ingredients or creative maintenance that is leading to its success but their effective utilization of modern skills and techniques right from the on stage presentation to their background functionalities. It is this reason I felt sentiment to science unravels The Lion King success story.
It took many by surprise to know that The Lion King is running in a small theatre compared to other shows, their average ticket price is only130$ visa-vis 170$ of The book of Mormons’, it is neither the longest running show on Broadway as this spot is taken by “Phantom of the Opera”, nor the longest running musical show. Then what is it contributing to their billion dollar triumph?
Initial success is completely attributed to the determination and vision of director Julie Taymor who was once laughed at when she wanted to bring lion king on stage. Later she became first women director to win Tony award. Further the tactfulness and the strategic approach of Disney lead to its success, this includes –the dynamic pricing through successful adaptation of algorithmic model of pricing which was only part of hotel and airlines industries for a long time, involving 2 layers – “First, the range of prices across the theater is set according to an estimate of the demand for a particular performance, based on the 15 years of past (box office) from which to extrapolate annual trends. Second, after tickets go on sale, Disney re-examines each (performance) to see how demand is shaping up in reality, and then tweaks pricing accordingly.”
Although all the other producers follow the same approach of using regression tool to price, they are not as successful as Disney in extracting consumer surplus efficiently this could be due to the Disney’s strength of 140 people team of business analytics who are vigilant about the trends, competitive analysis, consumer tastes and preferences in entertainment industry, helping them to take right decisions on price discrimination, timely promotions, group discounts, early bird offers etc.
Disney has not left any opportunities untapped right from the ideal Minskoff theatre location (particularly its lack of a second balcony, where seats tend to be lower priced) to growing tourism in New York City crossing 54million people a year and the substantial awareness along with word of mouth created due to its movie popularity & its visibility from new York times square.
All these acts as seasoning on the salad when the show, instead of losing its sheen over a period of time is rather glowing avidly with continually improved version of sets, props and artistry. This gradual transition from sentiment to science has made The Lion King to create a milestone of its own, soaring high yet not losing its ground.