Hasbro is getting into the live entertainment game. Their first move: “Monopoly the Musical,” targeted for Broadway and the first of a series of stage projects to be announced out of a new partnership between Hasbro and the Araca Group, the Broadway producing and merchandising company.
The expansion into live theater seems a natural extension for Hasbro. The Rhode Island based company has already become a Hollywood player with film franchises like “Transformers” and TV titles including “My Little Pony,” and the company’s move toward Broadway comes as movie studios and other entertainment conglomerates increasingly recognize the revenue potential in having a stage hit like “The Lion King” or “Wicked.”
The new partnership between Hasbro and Araca will dig into Hasbro’s library for inspiration for stage fare across all theater markets, including Broadway, national tours, amusement parks and cruise ships, as well as licensed content created for use by high schools, colleges and community theaters. For their first announced project, the partners will develop “Monopoly,” one of gaming’s biggest global brands, for the highest-profile theater market in the country, Broadway.
No creative players have yet been locked in for “Monopoly the Musical,” and decisions regarding plot, setting and music style are still in flux. “I can tell you this: It’s not going to be a musical about people sitting around playing Monopoly,” said Matthew Rego of the Araca Group. “What turns us on is creating something that explores the world of Monopoly, kind of like the Lego movies have done with Legos.”
Araca, which produced the Broadway run of Pultizer-winner “Disgraced” and is on the producing team of shows including “Wicked” and “Shuffe Along,” first connected with Hasbro through Araca’s successful merchandising division. Beyond handling merchandise for musicals including “Wicked,” “Matilda” and “The Book of Mormon,” Araca also does brand extension work for music acts like Beyonce and Britney Spears, and for Hollywood conglomerates like Disney, for which Araca helped spearhead the Her Universe line of apparel.
A merchandise deal for “Magic: The Gathering” first brought Araca into contact with Hasbro, after which the two companies began to discuss the potential for collaborating on stage work. “Our businesses are quite similar,” said Simon Waters, Hasbro’s general manager and SVP of entertainment and consumer products. Waters’ description of Hasbro’s gaming experiences — immersive — has become a trendy signifier in the theater industry in recent years. “We’re expanding our franchises and building immersive experiences. To bring our properties to life onstage is just the next level of immersion.”
No timeline for “Monopoly the Musical” has yet been set, with the premiere of the full production looking at least three or four years away. Further stage projects from Hasbro and Araca will announced in the coming months.