Steven, Frank and Peter Lowy at the opening of the new Westfield World Trade Centre in New York. Photo: Supplied Star Ricky Martin on the opening night of the Scott Sanders production of ‘Evita’ at the Marquis Theatre. Photo: Getty-Images
Frank Lowy’s Westfield Corp is taking shopping centre entertainment to a whole new level with the acquisition of Broadway film and television business Scott Sanders Theatrical Productions (SSTP), which has produced shows from The Color Purple to Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance.
SSP’s founder and CEO, Tony and Emmy award-winning producer Scott Sanders, will join Westfield as the new creative head of global entertainment.
In his new role, Mr Sanders will oversee live events and entertainment for Westfield’s shopping centres around the world. He will also continue to develop and produce a targeted group of Broadway shows and other live entertainment and media productions.
The deal heralds are new phase for malls, which are increasingly morphing into town centres where shops are almost a secondary reason to visit a centre. Westfield has been at the forefront of combining technology with retailing and moving into the theatrical world is another realm of enticing visitors to stay longer at a centre.
Westfield’s co-chief executive, Peter Lowy, who once dabbled in television when Westfield had a stake in the Ten Network in the 1990s, said the entertainment and innovative experiences were an increasingly important part of the overall attraction of Westfield centres, especially those flagship centres in the world’s leading cities of London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and at the newly opened Westfield World Trade Center in New York.
“It’s important that as we continue to integrate our digital platform with our physical assets that we also provide vibrant, exciting places for retailers and consumers,” he said in a statement from his US base.
“Scott’s talent and experience will help us create compelling new content and entertainment.”
Mr Lowy said the deal continued Westfield’s tradition of making its centres about more than just shopping.
“Live events and entertainment have always been critical to Westfield and Scott will provide a new dimension to our approach and help us further our engagement with our consumers,” he said.
Mr Sanders’ career spans several decades across feature films, television and live events. SSTP has won numerous awards, including the 2016 Tony Award for best musical revival for the The Color Purple and the 2014 Tony Award for best choreography for the musical After Midnight.
In addition to his Broadway productions, Mr Sanders has produced globally televised theatrical events such as the Super Bowl half-time show and is widely credited with reinventing the programming of Radio City Music Hall.
Mr Sanders said Westfield was a market leader in creating and providing world-class retail experiences.
“I look forward to being part of the team that continues to expand and evolve the concept of entertainment in these flagship centres,” he said.