While the Broadway commercial theater industry has been shut down for 7 months, the entertainment industry has kept in business via streaming prerecorded movies and live-streamed events. Disney, unable to reopen their theme parks in California and Florida at a sustainable capacity has pivoted to focus exclusively on digital streaming productions to feed their Disney + distribution channel. The August 17, 2020 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek has an excellent article, titled “The Streaming Wars Come to Real Estate”, about commercial real estate acquisitions by firms like Blackrock and Hudson Pacific for the purposes of studio production: both traditional film and television and for on-demand streaming.
Here are square footages of sound-stages for major production centers listed, as of 2018:
Los Angeles – 5.2 million sq. ft.
U.K. – 3.5 million sq. ft.
Vancouver – 2.5 million sq .ft.
Toronto – 2.3 million sq. ft.
Georgia – 2.0 million sq. ft.
New York – 1.8 million sq. ft.
TOTAL: 17.3 million sq. ft.
Taking a hypothetical stage size of 1,050 sq ft. (35′ x 30′) we would have the equivalent number of performance space in these studios:
LA – 4,952 stages
UK – 3,333 stages
Vancouver – 2,381 stages
Toronto – 2,190 stages
Georgia – 1,905 stages
New York – 1,714 stages
TOTAL: 16, 475
Broadway – 41 stages (dedicated to live performance only)
Of course, the number of actual sound stages will be much smaller. For example, Los Angeles has over 230 sound-stages. But, in terms of size, you can see how many available theatrical stage equivalent units there are available in entertainment. Also, while there are 41 Broadway stages, there are many more stages beyond, including regional theaters, performing arts centers, and smaller venues. (A great subject for a future article).
Finally, since almost any space is a potential Zoom video conference space and / or recordable, these spaces can also be used for streaming to an entertainment audience. Performance, editing and special effects can be done at home, uploaded and distributed anywhere in the world to an audience with internet access.
While we’re all in partial lock-down and regulations on in-person social gatherings, to keep the arts and entertainment economy going, performances need to be produced everywhere. The question is how we keep the unique experiences of live-theater alive and economically viable while we focus on transitioning towards a digital industries that provide artists, creatives, and craftspeople an economic livelihood.