In a move that brings two large-scale live entertainment brands under the same umbrella, Cirque du Soleil has acquired Blue Man Productions for an undisclosed sum said to number in the tens of millions of dollars.
Both Cirque and Blue Man, the company behind New York’s downtown-gone-global Blue Man Group, share a level of international name recognition and a global reach rare in the realm of live performing-arts entertainment. In recent years, Cirque has grappled with the challenges of expansion and diversification, eventually resulting in a restructuring that led private equity firm TPG to become the major controlling shareholder of the troupe.
The acquisition of Blue Man marks one step on Cirque’s path toward growth and diversity. With its cheeky take on percussive performance art and its memorable aesthetic, Blue Man Group began as a small-scale show in New York more than 25 years ago and has since proliferated to play 20 countries. The company currently has six resident productions running in the U.S. and Germany, as well as North American and international tours.
“It’s part of the new strategy for Cirque du Soleil to diversify our content,” Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre told Variety. “Like Cirque, Blue Man Group has developed their own creativity, their own niche and their own brand, but we thought that the Blue Man Group brand was underdeveloped. With our marketing machine and our network of promoters around the world, we can really, really expand their brand.” (The Cirque and Blue Man brands will remain separate, he added.)
China will be one major focus of expansion for both companies, according to Lamarre, who said Cirque will soon unveil a couple of major projects there. Among other initiatives that aim to diversify the portfolio are a recently-announced pact with the NFL for a large-scale Times Square attraction, plus a new ice show that launches in October.
In New York, Cirque broke the legit-theater barrier with its first Broadway outing “Paramour,” which closed earlier this year without turning a profit. “Toruk,” the company’s team-up with James Cameron’s “Avatar” franchise, played stops in the New York area last fall.