Has Cirque du Soleil flown a little too close to the sun?
"Iris," the company's resident show at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, will close much earlier than expected in January due to poor ticket sales, the company said Friday. The movie-themed show is believed to have cost close to $100 million to produce and was one of the company's biggest financial and creative gambles with a plan to run for at least 10 years.
"Iris" isn't the company's only high-profile bust. The show joins a list of flops that have tarnished the global Cirque brand in recent years.
Weak box-office results were to blame for the early demise this year of "Viva Elvis," the company's erstwhile tribute to the king of rock 'n' roll at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas. "Viva Elvis" closed in August after opening in 2010.
"Viva Elvis" was the first of Cirque's seven resident Vegas shows to shut down. Reports in the Las Vegas Sun stated that MGM Resorts, which owns the Aria, asked Cirque to close "Viva Elvis" due to poor ticket sales. The show had also faced creative problems, with plans to temporarily shut down and revamp the production in 2011.
But the overhaul never happened. Cirque eventually replaced "Viva Elvis" at rhe Aria with "Zarkana."
Cirque also closed its production of "Zaia" in Macao earlier this year. The show, which ran at the Venetian Macao, was intended to stay for a 10-year period. But Cirque pulled the plug after a little more than three years due to poor attendance, according to reports.
The early closing of "Zaia" means that Cirque doesn't have any shows running in Asia. The company closed its production of "Zed" at the Tokyo Disney Resort in the end of 2011, citing the economic effects of the earthquake and tsunami that spring.
Cirque slipped on its own "Banana Shpeel" in 2010. In that case, the main culprit appears to have been creative difficulties. The show, with a reported initial price tag of $20 million, had a tryout run in Chicago before opening in New York at the Beacon Theatre. Along the way, it suffered numerous creative setbacks, with reports of storyline changes and characters being written out.
After some delays, the show opened in New York to scathing reviews and it closed two months earlier than expected in the summer of 2010. It later played in Toronto. A planned national tour was scrapped.
"Iris" is scheduled to give its last performance Jan. 19. The production, which opened to great fanfare in 2011, was Cirque's first attempt at a permanent show in Los Angeles.
A Cirque spokeswoman told The Times that the company made a huge marketing push for the show both in L.A. and overseas to capture tourist interest. But the various efforts, which included discounted ticket promotions, failed to stoke sales.
Cirque currently has 20 shows playing or touring in North America, Europe, Australia and South America, according to the company's official website.
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