Ahhhh, the theatre! Home to William Shakespeare, brilliant actors throughout the ages, thousands of years of storied tradition, and now, a prequel to a Netflix original series.
What happened: Netflix’s first stage play will premiere later this year in London’s famous West End. The play, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, is a prequel to the mega-hit show, taking place 20 years before the series takes place and featuring some main characters.
Our first question is, “are they going to play Netflix’s famous dun-dun sound before the curtains open?” Our second (more important) question is, “why are they doing this?” Well...
Why it’s happening: Netflix has made it clear they’re in the business of franchise building. The company is looking to capitalize on its biggest hits in new ways as it believes that sustaining smash hits is the main path toward growth, viewership, and brand loyalty.
- From a Bridgerton ball to a Knives Out murder mystery party, Netflix has dabbled in using live experiences to wring money out of IP, but live theatre is a new gambit.
- That being said, live theatre featuring a Netflix show is already a proven winner; it just wasn’t done by Netflix. Last year, The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical sold out its first and only performance (leading to a swift copyright infringement suit from Netflix).
It’ll be a while till box office receipts roll in, but The First Shadow could be a massive moneymaker. Theatre based on existing IP has proven to be hugely popular, with a show like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child becoming one of the most successful plays ever.
Bottom line: From Netflix’s leap into centre stage to Disney’s Amazon Prime-like service, streamers are searching high and low for new revenue streams and avenues for growth.