Cirque du Soleil Names Head of NFL 4D Theatrical Attraction

Courtesy of Witkoff Group - Preliminary Rendering

Danny Boockvar will oversee the circus behemoth's Times Square interactive theater and digital exhibit to launch this fall in the heart of New York City.

The Cirque du Soleil has named consumer attraction veteran Danny Boockvar to head up its NFL-themed 4D theater and permanent exhibit in Times Square.

The former Girl Scouts of USA and New York Cruise Lines exec will oversee the 40,000 square-foot interactive theater and digital exhibit scheduled to open in November on the first four floors of a tower being built at the corner Seventh Avenue and 47th Street. The licensing deal with the NFL and the NFL Players Association will see the circus behemoth create its first sports-themed attraction, NFL Experience Times Square, with none of the usual Cirque du Soleil theatrics and acrobats, but instead targeting fans of American football year-round in the heart of Manhattan.

The permanent exhibit will include interactive screens surrounded by information about the NFL, and a planned auditorium for a 4D show to be co-produced with NFL Films promises a rollercoaster ride for football fans, with seats wired up to rock and roll with the game action.

4D cinema systems typically include moving seats, air/water blasts, fog and other special effects, programmed to sync with the action on the screen and sounds in the theater. Cirque's NFL 4D cinematic experience will take fans from the stands to the field as they journey from kickoff in September through the NFL playoffs, and potentially to the Super Bowl.

The NFL attraction will also allow fans into a recreated locker room, where they can study the game plans of actual teams. They may also get a photo with the Vince Lombardi trophy, learn about Super Bowl rings and see how they measure up against pro players via timed, physical challenges to help hone their football skills.

Cirque du Soleil will spend about $40 million to build the permanent attraction at 20 Times Square, with the NFL providing memorabilia and access to the NFL Films library. The venture with the NFL follows the Cirque launching a New York City presence with its first Broadway show, Paramour, and selling a controlling stake in the Montreal-based entertainment giant to U.S. private equity firm TPG Capital and a minority stake to Shanghai-based Fosun Capital Group.

Cirque is working with real estate developer and financier Witkoff Group to complete construction on the NFL attraction, with sports and entertainment presenter AEG on board as a financial partner. Despite becoming a global brand on the strength of its traveling and permanent circus shows, Cirque du Soleil in recent years has segued into film, TV and digital exploitation of its brand in partnership with Canada's Bell Media, Saban Brands and 20th Century Fox Television, among others.

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