Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hollywood Meltdown Part 2

In the 1998 movie You've Got Mail, the character of Kathleen Kelly owns a small bookstore called The Shop Around the Corner. The store, which she inherited from her mother, had been part of the community for years until a large chain bookstore came in with flashy signs, cheaper prices, and a well know brand. At first she kept a positive attitude, explaining that the neighborhood was big enough for both book stores. Unfortunately, sales plummeted, and patrons chose to shop at the new, trendy Fox Books. Soon she realized that she couldn't compete, and closed up shop for good.

The beginning of this scenario is strikingly similar to what is happening on Hollywood boulevard. Madame Tussaud's wax museum has opened up down the street from the Hollywood Wax Museum, and people who care about such things are wondering if this new development will spell the end for the older of the two. I thought that I would weigh in on the subject.

When I first heard that Madame Tussaud's was moving to Hollywood, I immediately imagined it as the end for the Hollywood Wax Museum. I saw the exact same story playing out here, that played out in You've Got Mail. The Walmart syndrome was going to ruin a Hollywood landmark. How could it possibly compete with an international mega-entertainment company? And when a recent Los Angeles Times article posed the same question, I tried to analyse the situation objectively. Without coming to a conclusion, I came up with some pros and cons for the wax museum's outlook, some of which the L.A. Times also noticed;

-The Hollywood Wax museum has lower overhead, and could withstand a small drop in attendance.
-It is one of three wax museums in the H.W.M. family, and has a growing brand.
-Lower admission price.
-Its partnership with the Guinness World Records Museum across the street.
-Its kitsch appeal.
-Madame Tussaud's already has a Vegas location and Vegas gets an enormous number of visitors from Southern California. It is possible they may cannibalize their own patrons. (More of a negative for M.T.)
-Other high tourist areas, such as Niagara Falls, have been able to have multiple wax museums thrive.

-Less accurate looking figures.
-Less capital to make necessary improvements.
-Further away from the Chinese theater.
-Not nearly as recognized as Madame Tussaud's.
-What is old is rarely in fashion, and the new will always be a draw.

All of these factors will lead to an as of yet unknown outcome. Hopefully this outcome will be the peaceful coexistence of the two museums, and a renewed interest in the wax figure as an art form. Both museums have something to offer Hollywood Boulevard, and I would not discourage anyone from visiting Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, but I would also encourage them to visit the Hollywood Wax Museum as well.

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