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November 19, 2018

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Expect expanded entertainment worldwide from the Cirque du Soleil-Blue Man Group deal

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Lindsay Best

The sky is the limit for the Blue Man Group.

If you thought this month’s announced acquisition of the Blue Man Group by Cirque du Soleil would eventually lead to a Cirque-ification of the popular, slightly avant-garde shows in Las Vegas and beyond, think again. The Blue Man brand—including its differences from and similarities to Cirque’s productions—is what the Montreal-based live entertainment provider digs most.

“They have come to it with the message of keeping the Blue Man DNA as it is, and kind of helping us realize where the character could go,” says one of BMG’s founders, Phil Stanton. “At this point in our history, we’ve accomplished a lot for three guys starting out as we did, but there’s a lot more we can do and Cirque can really help us with that. They can help us get the current show concept around the world in the way it should be.”

Cirque announced the deal July 6, assuming control of the New York-based Blue Man Productions, which has presented its award-winning show in more than 20 countries to more than 35 million people since 1991. “We are extremely excited to welcome the iconic Blue Man Group to our portfolio of shows. Their unbridled creativity makes them a perfect cultural fit for Cirque du Soleil,” said Cirque President and CEO Daniel Lamarre in that announcement. “Our extensive marketing research also confirms that Blue Man Group is a strong ‘love brand’ with a solid fan base—something else our two brands have in common.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed but Lamarre told the New York Times the sale price was in the tens of millions.

The transaction gives Cirque another well-known creative asset in its quest to expand globally and diversify its entertainment offerings, and as Stanton says, should provide BMG with the resources and vision to expand its show to new parts of the world while also developing different Blue Man shows.

“We’re a little different than Cirque in many ways, although we share the same guiding principles of celebrating human imagination,” Stanton says. “Before we were even contemplating becoming part of Cirque, we had a lot of ideas for a completely different show concept. We’ll see how things unfold but I think that will be the plan, to not only get the current show concept around the world, but to develop things we’ve had in mind for years and have not been able to produce, as well as new things we can only see when collaborating with Cirque. We’re looking forward to a lot of that.”

In Las Vegas, Cirque’s already dominant empire becomes that much stronger. Blue Man Group is Cirque’s eighth show on the Strip, and second at Luxor with Criss Angel: Mindfreak Live running in the pyramid-shaped resort’s Criss Angel Theater. The Blue Men do their thing in the smaller theater on the second-level promenade.

“They’ve been in town since 2000 and been a part of the same Vegas landscape Cirque has been a part of, so it’s not really adding a show, and from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, you’re not going to see Cirque branding on Blue Man Group or vice versa,” says Jerry Nadal, senior vice president of Cirque’s resident shows division. “They’ve got such a great brand. And that’s been part of our mission, expanding our role as a global entertainment leader not just by building our own stuff. Blue Man has such a great fan base, too, so to me, it’s a natural to pick it up. Most people that come to town are going to go see Blue Man at some point.”

Nadal says Blue Man Group has been one of the most influential shows on the Strip entertainment scene, specifically because of the immersive and interactive elements to the show. Like Cirque productions, BMG has continuously tweaked its Vegas production over the years. “You’ve got to look and see what is at the heart of each show,” Nadal says. “There are iconic pieces you don’t want to touch, but you also have to [change] to give people a reason to come back.”

There are no plans at this time to move Blue Man from the Luxor, but in the future, with Cirque at the helm, anything is possible. A second full-time BMG show on the Strip is not out of the question.

“We’re really excited about the future and we’re all kind of writing the script together as we go,” Stanton says.

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