Touring Entertainment Report 2024 - Preview

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Touring Entertainment Report


Innovative productions available to book now

n Maximise your merch

n How Bluey conquered the world

n Why ice shows are hot right now

2024 An ILMC Publication £399 | €399

Christoph Scholz for Business Development & Exhibitions

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Contents Publisher ILMC and Suspicious Marketing Editor James Drury Sub Editor Michael Muldoon Designer Philip Millard Contributors James Drury Hanna Ellington Thomas Hobbs Oumar Saleh Adam Woods Marketing & advertising Tom Brint Research Hanna Ellington Laura Silva Cover image NEON’s Jurassic World – The Exhibition ©2024 Universal Studios & Amblin Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved IQ Magazine Unit 31 Tileyard Road London, N7 9AH Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0300 Twitter/X: @iq_mag Touring Entertainment Report Welcome 05 Trends for 2024/25 06 Showstoppers 10 Touring entertainment industry events 24 Why you should run your business like a circus 27 Touring Entertainment LIVE report 30 Q&A: Rebekah Shearer, Live Nation Middle East 33 Maximising your merch 36 Q&A: Maria Maldonado, Feld Entertainment 40 Five principles for (more) sustainable tours & exhibitions 42 Withholding tax for exhibitions: straightforward, except where it isn’t 46 Q&A: Folkert Koopmans, James Cassidy & Barry Campbell, FKP Scorpio Entertainment 48 Building for success 50 It’s time for transparency 55 Q&A: Kurt Baker, NEON 56 Diversity = success 58 Family entertainment is the new rock & roll 60 Partnering for success 66 Bluey’s VERY big play 70 Ice shows are hot stuff 76 Tech to the future 80 Advertisers index 82 Thousands of professionals read IQ every day. Make sure you get the whole picture… SUBSCRIBE HERE

Trends for 2024/25



socialising to

recreational fear, Oumar Saleh examines the latest trends in touring entertainment.

The growing popularity of the touring entertainment sector has led to more and more content on the road. But creating eye-popping shows that people want to tell their friends about doesn’t come cheap, and ever-increasing competition means that being ahead of the trends curve is an important part of deciding what to develop for the market.

So what’s hot and what’s not? Here are some of the key trends for 2024/25.


From Instagram posts to TikTok reels, we’ve all seen friends and family share their immersive experiences on social media platforms. So it’s no surprise that creating experiences that people want to share online can drive awareness, as well as sell tickets. Check out Dopamine Land in London, Washington, Brisbane, and Madrid; The Art of the Brick, with its inventive Lego creations; or any of the major art projection exhibits, and you’ll know exactly what we mean.

But audiences want more than an Instagram moment, as George Wood, MD of Luna Entertainment Group, which co-produces The Friends Experience with OGX and operates the show in the UK in Europe, says. The global hit exhibition offers fans of the hit TV series a chance to relive scenes in beloved settings such as Central Perk café or the main characters’ apartments. While platforms such as Instagram are great marketing tools, Wood says that visitors were most attracted to the appeal of creating their own nostalgia-tinged moments.

“Being able to take pictures of themselves on the famous orange sofa and recreating moments with their friends is excellent marketing,” Wood explains. “It not only promotes the show, but these things never feel forced. There’s no cheap ploy by the content producers to get visitors to engage with them. In a way, it feels like a holistic experience, and social media is just one part of making that experience that much better.” Authenticity is key to success – audiences

6 Touring Entertainment Report 2024

want to play an active role in the experience, as Nicolas Renna, CEO of Spain-based international promoter and producer Proactiv, told the Touring Entertainment LIVE conference at ILMC: “Experiences that organically facilitate social media sharing empower visitors to become active participants in the marketing process.”


No longer a sideshow to the main experience, dining is now very much on the menu for touring experiences. Mama Mia! The Party at The O2 in London sees fans of the hit musical treated to a Greek-style meal before enjoying a performance of the show, plus an ABBAthemed after-party. The Faulty Towers Dining Experience means you can sample some of the infamous service quality from characters of the BBC hit comedy series while dining – it’s been in constant demand throughout Australia, Europe, Ireland, Scandinavia, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK for years.

The future certainly seems to hold more mouth-watering delights on this theme ahead.

Family centresentertainment

While the lack of venue availability is a regular issue across Europe, in the US and Asia, FECs (family entertainment centres) have become popular alternatives to traditional venues.

Billed as large-scale leisure spaces, FECs allow families to not only be entertained but also provide opportunities for shopping and eating.

One of the most spectacular examples is Sony’s 40,000ft² Wonderverse located in Chicago’s Oakbrook Center. The free-to-enter venue has individual attractions priced from $6 to $35 per person.

“What we’re looking to do with the location-based entertainment business is extend and broaden the relationship we have between our audiences and our IP,” Jeffrey Godsick, who leads global location-based entertainment (LBE) and themed entertainment for Sony Pictures Entertainment, told Blooloop. “We need activations that maintain that relationship, bring new audiences into the brand, and extend the stories. In many cases, we’re world-building with these attractions.”

He added: “We really believe in depths of immersion. People need to be able to decide on how deep they want to go. They might just want to be eating in that environment, or they might want to dive deep into the world of a movie and be that character. We’re trying to

provide that full range.”

Expect to see more of these multi-IP experiences around the world in the coming years.

Telling new stories

While big brand IP continues to draw in mass crowds, touring entertainment producers seeking to move beyond the ever-popular topics of Ancient Egypt, Titanic, and dinosaurs are looking to the world of science and technology for inspiration. Lightroom’s The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks exhibit in London sees the famous actor narrate the story of NASA’s Apollo moon landings, and the BBC Earth Experience, based on the hit natural history TV series, was a smash hit in London, and at the time of writing was continuing this success in Melbourne, Australia.

Left: Producers are finding new stories to tell, such as Lightroom’s The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks. © Justin Sufcliffe

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On a similar note, in the pursuit of novel stories to tell, there’s a growing interest in more diverse storylines. From shows celebrating the contributions of ethnic minorities in pop culture to exhibits championing inclusivity and body positivity,

Trends for 2024/25 | Forecast

Discover some of the most exciting and innovative shows and exhibitions available to book in our special feature celebrating showstopping creativity in touring entertainment.

Feature | Showstoppers 10 Touring Entertainment Report 2024
Showstoppers | Feature 11
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Building for success

Faced with challenges finding venue availability due to increasing amounts of touring content on the road, promoters are turning to a variety of innovative solutions to host their productions.


Drury investigates.

The boom in touring entertainment is coinciding with a period when many of the venues required for these productions have never been busier. It seems whether it’s music or exhibitions, ice shows or immersive experiences, there’s rarely been a time when so much content has been available for audiences to choose from.

The result – particularly in many European primary markets – is there just aren’t enough venues for everything. Promoters and producers working across the continent say they’re struggling to secure dates, as they compete with concerts for avails.

“There’s a demand for more programming to fill venues, but there’s also a massive lack of venues,” Tom Zaller, CEO of Imagine Exhibitions said during Touring Entertainment LIVE at ILMC. “There’s a lot of IP out there. And for some people, it’s easy to get a venue, but for others, it’s hard. There’s a lot of competition in the space.”

Companies are turning to a variety of innovative solutions to solve this issue. In 2023, DEAG-owned promoter Kilimanjaro Group (now KMJ Entertainment) opened Arches London Bridge (UK), an 11,000-sqft space led by Liz Koravos, who previously oversaw the design, operation, and build of the British Music Experience and the UK’s Museum of Popular Music in Liverpool.

And it’s not the only promoter opening venues. CTS Eventim-owned Semmel Concerts Entertainment is renovating the 1,700-seat Metronom Theater in Oberhausen, which is due to reopen in November 2024, after a four-year closure.

“We believe in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region as an entertainment location and in a future for this truly exceptional location, which offers a great deal of flexibility for all kinds of events, thanks to its different rooms,” says Dieter

Feature | Building for success 50 Touring Entertainment Report 2024

Semmelmann, CEO Semmel Concerts Entertainment. “From rehearsal locations to corporate events, shareholder meetings, celebrations in a special ambience and, of course, musicals, shows, and concerts, this is an ideal setting for national and international productions from our dynamically growing touring business.”

The theatre has seven individual and four collective dressing rooms, a 400sqm stage plus side stages of approximately 50sqm, and there are two separate lounges, each with a small bar, while the foyer has four large bars.

“We are currently expanding in many directions,” says Semmelmann. “In addition to the takeover of the Metronom Theater, we have founded the company Limelight Live Entertainment together with Ralf Kokemüller, which will take care of the musical/show division and innovative new formats in this area in the future. We are expanding internationally with European tours of productions such as The World of Hans Zimmer, Disney in Concert, Abbamania the Show, and our first US tour of Hans Zimmer Live. We are also pushing ahead with our activities in the newcomer and country music sectors.”

Fellow CTS Eventim-owned promoter FKP Scorpio is to open an 8,000sqm exhibition venue, also in Oberhausen. The new venue is made up of separate but adaptable exhibition spaces in one location. “It is our intention for this to become the ultimate German

destination for exhibitions and immersive events in years to come,” FKP Scorpio co-CEO Folkert Koopmans, and new president of FKP Scorpio Entertainment James Cassidy tell us on page 48. “IPs are lining up, there are so many great producers and [lots of] excellent content out there, but we tend to find that there just aren’t enough venues. Our approach in Oberhausen will be to offer that balance between the tier-one IP and mid-portfolio exhibitions in a fully serviced, one-stop venue destination.”

Having launched its own Van Gogh immersive experience at the RDS in Dublin, selling over 85,000 tickets in 11 weeks, Irish company Theatre of Light opened its own venue in the Point Square retail and leisure centre. At the time of writing it was hosting Lego exhibition Bricktionary, which is on course to sell 100,000 tickets in its six months duration.

“We prefer not to do straight rental deals with other promoters, and instead work on a partnership basis, because it’s great to bring in these IPs, but if we believe in the show, we like to share the upside with them,” says Theatre of Light managing director Dan Gleeson. “We have probably two years’ worth of content in the pipeline for the venue for shows that haven’t been to Ireland before.”

With his business partner and brother John, Gleeson’s background is in mobile phone stores (the pair have six across Ireland) meaning they have a strong understanding of

Above: Blockbuster attractions such as Semmel Exhibitions’ Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition are proving very popular © JosephEley

Opposite page: Walking With Dinosaurs at AsiaWorld-Expo

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Bluey’s VERY big play

Based on the hit TV series, Bluey’s Big Play is a global phenomenon, selling out shows on almost every continent and reaching arenas. James Drury talks to some of the key people behind the extraordinary success.

Andrew Kay watched just four minutes of a very early episode of children’s TV show Bluey before he was on the phone to the BBC to ask if he could acquire the worldwide live touring rights.

“I remember it clearly,” says the renowned impresario, whose 45-year career includes scores of major shows across the entertainment industry, including the Grammy-winning, Emmy Award-winning ,and Academy Award-nominated Soweto Gospel Choir, immersive experience Van Gogh Alive,

the global tour of pianist David Helfgott (whose life was depicted in the film Shine), and tours including Maggie Smith, Brenda Blethyn, Jerry Hall, Derek Jacobi, Buena Vista Social Club and Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

“Bandit [Bluey’s dad] was taking the girls to the park. He’s cooking a barbecue in a public park when Bluey says, ‘Dad, I need to go to the toilet. I need to do a wee.’ And he’s now got that terrible conflict between not burning the sausages and taking his daughter to the toilet. So he takes her to the toilet, but he can see smoke starting to come off the sausages and knows he’s burning the food. He says, ‘Bluey, what’s going on in there?’ And she said, ‘Oh, sorry, Dad, it started as a pee, but now it’s a poo.’

“I got on the phone immediately.”

That’s how, in 2020, Bluey’s Big Play toured 60 venues in Australia in the immediate aftermath of Covid-19, before opening internationally at Madison Square Garden in November 2022. It’s since debuted in the UK at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall before embarking on a wider national tour and is on the road worldwide, including 102

70 Touring Entertainment Report 2024 Case Study | Bluey’s Big Play

weeks in the US, plus venues across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

The new show was produced by Kay’s HVK Australia and the BBC. It was written by Bluey creator Joe Brumm, with new music by composer Joff Bush. It sees Bluey’s dad seeking some Sunday afternoon time off, but Bluey and Bingo have other plans, pulling out all their games and cleverness to get Dad off that beanbag.

Spotting the live potential of Bluey so early is one of the reasons Kay – whose career includes roles as CEO at Australian promoter Paul Dainty (now TEG Dainty), president of Live Performance Australia, and general manager of Melbourne Theatre Company – has such an exceptional reputation for spotting hits.

“I’ve been doing this for 45 years, and I have a few rules: I never competitively bid on a show, I buy wholesale, and I look under rocks – I do the shows that no one else has thought about,” he tells us.

Kay says he learned many of his lessons from touring pianist David Helfgott in 1997. That started when he was working at major Australian promoter Paul Dainty and his friend, screenwriter Jan Sardi, called to tell him about a new film he’d written about a classical pianist from Perth [it was Academy Awardwinning Shine]. “And I said: ‘Well, Jan, that’s great. We should have lunch.’ And that was about the end of my conversation with him because I just didn’t see it going anywhere.

“But one day, I was reading Variety, and there was an article about a fistfight at the Sundance Film Festival between Harvey Weinstein and the managing director of Fineline over a film about a pianist from Perth. It was a lightbulb moment. So I rang David Helfgott’s agent, Jeff Weaver, and said, ‘I’d like to tour David Helfgott.’ He said, ‘I’m terribly sorry. [promoter] Andrew McKinnon already has the Australian rights.’ I replied: ‘Well, what about the rest of the world?’ He said: ‘No one’s ever asked me about that.’ So I asked for the world rights, except for Australia. The day after, I met Gillian and David Helfgott to lock in the deal. The next day, we went to America to arrange a tour.”

Along with Tony-winning producer Richard Frankel, Kay booked 54 dates around America, funding the whole thing themselves. “And we sold every ticket. It was so much fun because tickets were going on sale at 9am, and I would ring Richard’s office at 9.20am to ask how it was going and the shows were sold out in 15 minutes. And we never advertised a single show.”

He says just as excellent partners were key to the success of the Helfgott tour, so

they have been key to creating the global phenomenon of Bluey’s Big Play

“You need reliable partners, and you need to do it quickly,” he says. “I always describe our business with a bizarre metaphor: before farmers harvest sugar cane, they go around and burn all the dried leaves off the field. It’s the fiercest, brightest fire you’ve ever seen. It’s ‘pfft’, and then it’s gone, and you would never know a fire existed. Sometimes tours are like that: if you’re slow, it’s too late, it’s gone. That’s why you need networks and partners; you need to be brave, and you need to be fast. That’s what we’ve done with Bluey.”

In the UK, Kay’s co-producer is Live Nation-owned promoter Cuffe and Taylor, where SVP of arts and entertainment, Ben Hatton, spotted the potential of the show. Hatton, who was behind the success of Olivier Award-winning Hey Duggee, flew to the Madison Square Garden show and says he knew exactly what the strategy should be.

“I quickly realised that I had to make sure that we were the partners,” he says. “So the first thing we did was get sign-off from all of the stakeholders, and then I started mapping

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Bluey’s Big Play | Case Study 71
Bluey’s Big Play has been selling out across the world All photos © Mark Senior
82 Touring Entertainment Report 2024 Advertisers Contact Page Apassionata World GmbH 47 AsiaWorld-Expo 35 Braehead Arena 54 Csb Island Entertainment ApS 4 Cuffe & Taylor Limited 73 Culturespaces 9 Family Quest Entertainment 17 Feld Entertainment 41 FKP Scorpio Group 49 Flying Fish 45 GLP – George Leitner Productions GmbH 43 Grande Experiences 15 Holiday On Ice 75 Imagine Exhibitions, Inc. 84 lililillilil 17 MB Presents 83 NEON Global 57 Proactiv Entertainment 28,29 Semmel Concerts 2 Steve Steinman Productions 39 Teo Exhibitions 25 Terrapin Station Entertainment 7 The Experience Economy Meeting 25 Theatre of Light 53 Zorlu Performing Arts Center 52
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