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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » 4 walling theatre nightmare? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Lucasw
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Just wondering if anyone else has ever experienced a theatre that has ridiculously strict rules when it comes to advertising your show in their theatre, that they rented to you.

Here are a few highlights…

-You are not allowed to use the name of the theatre in any “advertising material” outside of a footer provided to go at the bottom of all “advertising material”.
-The footer provided has all the theatre information (name, location, website, phone number etc.) but 25% of the footer is bold print reading ‘THIS IS A RENTAL EVENT”.
-You cannot distribute/publish any “advertising material” without approval from the theatre.
-While you are allowed to have a landing page with a poster and information for tickets on their website, which already features large red font saying “RENTAL EVENT” and an addition RENTAL EVENT badge over your poster. The actual page where people buy tickets for your show, instead of having a poster, you have a large graphic that reads “RENTAL EVENT”. Followed by more red bold font that say RENTAL EVENT by the buy tickets button.
-They will not engage in any type of social media for your event. Even when patrons tag the theatre in a post at the event, they don’t engage.
-You are allowed one 11x17 poster in the window.
-They will assist in no way to market your show. (duh!)

Background on the theatre.
Theatre is located in a small town (7000 people). 350 seats. Summer stock theatre with rental events taking place in their off season. My rough guess is that they have 10-20 rental events a year.

Has this happened to you? Or do you know of something like this?

I understand what they’re doing, but I’ve never seen it taken to such an extreme.

Interested in hearing your stories.

Thanks,
Lucas
55Hudson
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Lucas,

Why would you agree to such restrictive requirements? All contracts are negotiable - perhaps even going to a different arrangement altogether, e.g., 2-wall.

I've never rented a theater for a show, but have engaged in many business negitoations and have leaned that sometimes the best deal is the one you don't do.

Hudson
Mindpro
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Let's be clear, this is NOT a 4 wall deal. This is a straight rental deal just as if someone came in off of the street and rented the theater for a wedding reception, a company's sales training event, or other event. You dealt with the sales department, you were simply and nothing more than a rental customer. This is in no way either a 4 or 2 wall deal.

THAT is why you faced such restrictions and the clearly stated notice of RENTAL EVENT t clearly state this was not their event in any capacity. This is a very normal and standard rental in such circles. Nothing abnormal or that out of line for such arrangement. My guess it was a flat rate price.

Did you do this deal (I'm guessing not, as this would have little chance of success if you were looking at selling tickets and producing your own performance.)? If not what are you looking to do? What were you seeking? Was this for a one-night event?What were they wanting to charge you for this rental?

There would many many other approaches I would have considered with this venue other than this. Please answer these questions and I can provide more once knowing these things.
Lucasw
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I’ve taken this deal with the strict restrictions going into my fourth year now.

Why?
Last year, we sold out 3 shows in one day. The year before, we did two sold out shows in one day. First year, we sold out their floor seating for two shows. We weren’t allowed to sell balcony seating the first year because of another policy, which I fought them on and won. Since the second year we’ve been selling balcony seats.

Why not partner with the theatre?
They had zero interest in any type of partnership. They said “you can rent or not rent”. They also weren’t interested in just buying out my show, or cross promotion.

Cost?
$1100 for the day rental. It does include box office services, front of house staff and a theatre tech.

When I first rented, the restrictions weren’t as bad and the price was almost half of what it is now.

Having spoken to friends who work in the theatre industry, they had never heard of such extreme conditions for a rental. In fact, this is the only theatre I’ve dealt with that has a clause saying you can’t use the name of the theatre.

The solution is finding a different venue in this area, which is in the works. However, this is the only theatre we have in our town, the next closest theatre is over an hour away. We are selling out at this theatre, but we are also having to jump through hoops, which is a pain in the butt when you’re trying to produce a show.

I’m not really looking for a solution to this and trying hard not to complain, but rather just curious to hear other peoples stories about strange rental agreements, because to me, this is pretty crazy. Or perhaps I'm completely wrong, what do you think?

Also, I was under the impression that 4 walling was renting a venue and producing the show yourself. 2 walling was when you partnered with the theatre and did a profit share of sorts. Was I wrong?
Dannydoyle
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In the end if you're making money you're doing it right. Good for you!

There are all sorts of restrictions put in when theaters get burned and scared. I'm just surprised after 2 years the relationship isn't past some of that.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
TomBoleware
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Sounds like they don’t want it to be sold as a theater produced event, and they feel using the name in anyway other than the location could be misleading.

Our local theater has tightened up on the fine print too, but have not went so far to bold ‘Rental Event’ everywhere on the advertising yet.

Yes, in most cases, 4 walling is paying for all 4 walls. You on your own. You renting.

Tom
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Mindpro
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That's fantastic! What you did is probably the hardest type of arrangement to do because you are 100% on your own in a straight rental deal. Whatever you did on your own to promote it seemed to do well. I'm guessing you probably might have done some press and media? What's good is it is easy to promote and get good coverage in a small town of only 7000.

Many theaters want the straight guarantee of rental income with no interest in really working with you in any capacity. In a 4 wall deal, there are often some components of the venue that can be involved, where in a straight rental you are on your own.

The first year is always the hardest. I am surprised that in the subsequent years they weren't more cooperative.

There is an area with theaters like this you have to be very careful of in not appearing too successful to the venue when you do better than they do in their own efforts. I've seen theaters feel very threatened.

The Summer Stock may have worked against you creating this type of arrangement.
Keith Raygor
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Quote:
On Jan 27, 2018, Lucasw wrote: Also, I was under the impression that 4 walling was renting a venue and producing the show yourself. 2 walling was when you partnered with the theatre and did a profit share of sorts. Was I wrong?


No, you weren't. The concept of 4-walling has always meant the rental of the theater space. Merriam-Webster dictionary and Wikipedia also define it the same as you, and as others in this industry. My experience with 4-walling theaters did include the sound/light tech, and the box office, but I've not run into the other restrictions you mentioned. I'm assuming they made the rules out of necessity.

Break a leg.
thomasR
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For the past 12 years I have worked full time in the entertainment industry as a Lighting Designer for concert tours, and I've also produced my own theatrical variety shows that have toured through a dozen or so states. I've never heard the term "4-wall" outside of the magic industry. Im sure it exists as a general term somewhere (maybe in branson? Vegas?) but the terms I've always heard both from concert and theatres that I've rented are "self-promote" for 4-wall, and "split" for 2-wall.

As for the restrictions you've run into... They aren't unheard of. I've rented about 2 dozen venues over the years and many times they want specific wording on all advertisements. I've even signed a contract that would add a fine if I spelled "theater" instead of "theatre" Things like that vary a lot from venue to venue.
Dannydoyle
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Most times I've heard the term 4 wall it refers to more of a residency than one night. Is this sort of what you mean?

Most theaters either hire or have 1 or however many night rental agreements.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
lou serrano
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I’ve always understood a 4-wall deal to mean you’re renting the space between the 4 walls. With that understanding I’ve done several 4 wall deals. Some had restrictions, but never as extreme as what’s described here.

Maybe Mindpro can chime in and explain why he says this is not a 4-wall deal.

Lou Serrano
Mindpro
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No, there are some major differences between a straight rental and a 4 wall deal agreement. The definition provided here by others is a very general definition. They often use two completely different agreements - one a rental agreement and the other a PLA agreement.

While I do not have all of my files nearby, I have looked up a couple I do have access to and there is some content that specifically addresses this showing a regular venue rental agreement is different from a 4 wall agreement. One even specifically states it in the agreement. As I always say, be careful who you listen to, and separate fact from opinion - especially on this topic as it can become quite costly to do otherwise.


"This is not a standard rental occupancy agreement as this agreement is intended for the sole purpose of producing a promoted event production for public consumption or purposes...

...requires a verifiable Certificate of Insurance including Proof of Additionally Insured specifically naming the inclusion of the following entities....

...all public and private promotion, advertising and media including the name, image or likeness of (xxxx - name of venue) are subject to the approval by the Executive Board...

....This Production Lease Agreement includes.... ...and is executed only as expressly stated in this agreement."


While each theater or management company may have their own individual terms and policies, I have found, including in Canada, that many venues that have or do 4 wall deals will typically have a special agreement and terms for such which are different than their typical event rental agreement.

Also, terms are often different for a single or one-off event as they have or will accept for a run of multi-day or week events. These are viewed and executed from two entirely different perspectives.

With this said, there are still many venues that may likely be unfamiliar with 4 wall type deals. If so, all they know are regular rental operations and will approach your interests with such an agreement and perspective, which is likely what has happened here.

Some venues will only do 4 wall deals with a proven producer, production company, promoter or a certified association member. Much depends on if the venue if owner/family operated, corporate-managed and operated or other.

I have also heard of venues that, depending on your needs, will make you sign both agreements. As an example, the PLA agreement for the theater venue itself for your show, yet if you have any receptions, meet and greets, sponsor VIP areas, they make you complete a regular rental agreement for this space, even though it is in conjunction with your 4 wall deal.
lou serrano
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Mindpro,

Wouldn’t the terminology you’re using be based on each individual venue. I’ve rented theaters, signed agreements, and I’ve never seen any specific terminology on whether it was a 4-wall or straight rental, but all of my agreements had specific terminology that I was renting for the express purpose of producing a public show. In every case I was also required to have liability insurance.

Are we splitting hairs here? Please explain.

Lou Serrano
Lucasw
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When I asked if something had happened in the past that caused them to apply such extreme conditions, they said nothing happened. This is just their way of distinguishing between their events and rental events. Which again, I thought was a bit extreme due to the size of the theatre and quality of the theatre. There are a few other small details they do too that I haven’t listed.

I’m not trying to complain, it’s their theatre, their rules, don’t like it, don’t rent it. Although, they did blindside me this year with the new rule about no posters allowed on their ticketing pages. Just big RENTAL EVENTS. I would have liked to see that in the contract.

I guess I’m just looking for other people in similar situations, so that I can help justify all the hoops I have to jump through.

Thank you for your clarification on 4 walling. I was under the impression that a straight rental (whether for one day or more) was still in essence 4 walling. Thank you for your knowledge.
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jan 28, 2018, lou serrano wrote:
Mindpro,

Wouldn’t the terminology you’re using be based on each individual venue. I’ve rented theaters, signed agreements, and I’ve never seen any specific terminology on whether it was a 4-wall or straight rental, but all of my agreements had specific terminology that I was renting for the express purpose of producing a public show. In every case I was also required to have liability insurance.

Are we splitting hairs here? Please explain.

Lou Serrano



While specific terminology may come into play and yes, does exist much like as a performer some may call their contract a Contract, Contract Of Sevices, Performance Agreement, Engagement Agreement, etc., the same can apply here too. I have done deals with a Performance Lease Agreement, A Promoter's Lease Agreement, A Third Party Production Agreement and several others. So yes, that can come into play, but what I was referring more to were the differences in contents of these two types of agreements.

One is for a very short-term use of the facility, the other as more of a business agreement (business to business) knowing the buyer (producer, promoter or performer) is doing this deal and will be operating for the purpose of promoting a for-profit event as a commerce-based business transaction, using with this, use of the venues name, some included services and much more pertaining to the promotion is included. As are often different load-in/out access, arrangements and details, marshalling, music licensing (ASCAP, BMI SESAC, etc.), ticketing, parking, possible permits and many other areas that are approached, viewed and included as part of the agreement which are much different, some completely opposite from a regular rental agreement. Unions, crew and in-house entities also come into play. It is the contents that I was referring to (not the general concept) that are or can be quite different (and can actually be more in our favor).
lou serrano
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Thanks for your response, Mindpro. So I have one final question. Why does this terminology matter?

Lou Serrano
TomBoleware
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Down my way I’m not sure any of the small town local theaters would even know what you were talking about if you asked about “4 walling” They ‘rent’ the theater and they have one contract and it is not negotiable. You take it or you leave it. However some do give the local events a better price on the required deposit over someone passing through town.

Tom
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Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jan 28, 2018, lou serrano wrote:
Thanks for your response, Mindpro. So I have one final question. Why does this terminology matter?

Lou Serrano


To quote Bruce Bernstein, perception is everything. If you are not part of the industry or trade associations (or other credible, reputable position) in this area, how you present yourself often will determine how they perceive you and if they will trust you and want to do business with you - the first impression thing. Like in any business or industry if you speak their language know the vernacular you will be seen and taken as a professional, someone worthy of doing business with and to accepting such an agreement. If not it could be very easily, especially for venues that have not done such types of arrangements, be seen as a hustler or shady.

I have refused several performers and producers myself in my venues for this very reason.

Also, many professionals I know that do self-productions or 4 walls will have their own agreement to offer the venue. More times than not they will accept it, sometimes will want to modify it but it is a better starting point than a regular rental agreement. It can also come into play if the venue itself is part of any trade associations or networks with their own regulations as well.

And yes, it also does matter as far as pay and what you are getting for your money. Any decent 4 wall deal should have at least 4-5 sources/streams of income. Most theaters or venues will not allow this under a regular rental agreement. It may only be legal under the proper agreement and often in compliance issue with any in place or operational agreements if city or municipal owned, historical classification, permitting, etc.

It matters to them and it should matter to you. People think only 2 wall deals are partnerships, and in reality so should a 4 wall deal. It is a joint venture and people usually only want to be in such a deal with others they trust, know and feel professional about, especially for a first-time deal.
lou serrano
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Let me clarify my question. If the venues themselves aren’t using the term 4-wall, why does that terminology matter?

Lou Serrano
Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On Jan 28, 2018, lou serrano wrote:
Let me clarify my question. If the venues themselves aren’t using the term 4-wall, why does that terminology matter?

Lou Serrano


Ultimately this really is sort of the point. Lou you may hate to hear this but I agree.

Also at some point you need to be able to work within the framework provided by each local theater and not put them off with "knowledge". If they call it a rental it is a rental. If they call it a four wall then so be it. If they call it a one night event of smidgen in the contract then there ya go. More than the term knowing how the agreement works is essential I believe.

Tom MANY theaters have non negotiable contracts put in place according to the worst experience the theater owner has ever had. Yep. Not uncommon at all. And giving local events a better price is just good business.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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