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Netflix to Stream 'Diana' Musical While Broadway Is Closed

12/08/2020 11:38pm

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By Charles Passy 

Broadway might be closed until at least January, but another show is finding a home in the streaming world during the interim.

"Diana," a musical based on the life of Princess Diana, will be streamed on Netflix next year ahead of its rescheduled Broadway debut on May 25, 2021, the show's producers said Wednesday. The production, which was originally set to open this spring, had been running in previews at the time of Broadway's shutdown in mid-March as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The Disney+ service began streaming a filmed version of "Hamilton," the runaway Broadway hit, earlier this summer. Other Broadway shows have also made deals with streaming services. For example, "The Prom," a Tony Award-nominated musical that ran on Broadway in 2018-19, is being developed for Netflix.

The producers of "Diana" said in a joint statement that "though there is no substitute for the live theater, we are honored to be a part of the quality entertainment that Netflix provides its subscribers worldwide." Netflix Inc. officials declined to comment.

For years, the Broadway community has had mixed feelings about releasing filmed versions of shows while productions are still running in the theater, let alone releasing a version before the show even opens, as is the case with "Diana." The concern is that once audiences have seen the show at the movies or on their television or computer screens, they might have little incentive to buy a ticket to watch it in person.

But that view is changing, especially when the far-reaching impact of the streaming medium is taken into consideration. Shows that might never otherwise have been on audiences' radars are suddenly able to gain global exposure, say theater professionals.

"Think of it as a massive commercial," said Victoria Cairl, a theater marketing and sales strategist.

The pandemic is also pushing Broadway producers to take a harder look at streaming since shows have no other way to reach audiences while theaters are closed, professionals added.

The streaming strategy might not work for every production. Mike Rafael, a veteran ticketing consultant, said shows with limited runs might not want to jeopardize their potential sales by competing with another medium in such a short time frame.

Nevertheless, Mr. Rafael said that if the "Diana" Netflix film boosts ticket sales, other producers are likely to take note.

"It will be very interesting to see how it plays out," he said.

Write to Charles Passy at cpassy@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 12, 2020 18:23 ET (22:23 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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