In Auckland, New Zealand, a very expensive musical is not doing very well at the box office, which, to be fair, happens all the time. But according to the New Zealand Herald, this one is doing extremely not well, so much so that the 800-seat theater it’s playing in is “more than 90 percent empty.” That means this musical, City of 100 Lovers, which has a cast of 26 and a budget of more than $8 million (more than $5 million USD), is playing to an audience of 70, a number “bolstered considerably, according to box officer staff, by complimentary tickets.” In a large part because, according to the reviews, City of 100 Lovers isn’t very good and is just a boring patriotic pageant.
You’d think that given all this, the producers would just wrap things up, especially since the show first opened in October, but this is where the story gets good. When the New Zealand Herald asked the PR firm representing City of 100 Lovers about the production, the firm said the producers were willing to spend even more money on it, even up to $12 million in New Zealand dollars. What’s more, it seems that one key producer, Jihong Lu, has a whole colorful past that includes a failed plan to redevelop Auckland, fines for business practices in Shanghai, and involvement in an offshore tax haven in Bermuda. In the single best part of the story, the Herald writes: “Since his bankruptcy, Lu has kept a low profile in New Zealand, appearing in neither the business press nor society pages for more than a decade. He has only re-emerged into the Auckland limelight in the last few years, attending polo matches and establishing an Instagram presence heavy on shots of his 25m superyacht.”
What I’m saying is that there needs to be a whole prestige TV show about the making of this failing New Zealand musical, because there is an Emmy in it for whoever gets to play Lu, and turning things into TV is the only way I or anyone else can process news anymore.