The Country Music Hall of Fame has joined forces with Emersia Entertainment, a Hollywood-based entertainment production company, to carry the heart and soul of country music around North America.
For the Good Times, a traveling, family-oriented multimedia attraction, is expected to draw 3.5 million visitors in a three year period. It will launch in June/July 2001, about one month after the Hall of Fame unveils its new $37 million museum in downtown Nashville.
The Hall of Fame and Emersia announced plans for the $22.5 million touring exhibit on Thursday (June 8) at a news conference near the construction site of the new Hall of Fame.
At 40,000 square feet, For the Good Times will be laid out in a spoke-and-wheel format. A multimedia hub will direct visitors into giant rooms dedicated to themes in country music, such as the road, honky-tonk, love and the West. Each room will have interactive moments, total-surround sets, blue screen photo opportunities, multimedia presentations and lots of country music.
The attraction also will include a facade of the Ryman Auditorium, a tour bus that doubles as a theater and an area to showcase local country talent and host live radio broadcasts. Rounding out the attraction will be a themed shopping experience, designed to resemble the backstage area of a country concert, where merchandise and clothing will be available.
“Country music is all about the heart and soul of America,” said Emersia president Timothy Elwell. “It’s a true American art form, and it was important for us to have something that wasn’t a Hollywood facade of country music, but something that would cut right down to the quick of the emotional core of what people feel with country music. We really couldn’t do that without the gatekeeper of this American art form, which is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.”
“Some of the most innovative minds in Hollywood will present country music heritage to millions of people,” said Country Music Hall of Fame Director Kyle Young. “They will also present a taste of the experience that awaits us next summer in our new Hall of Fame. We at the Hall of Fame have gotten to know the Emersia team well over the past few months and I can’t begin to convey the talent, creativity and commitment they bring to this project.”
The Hall of Fame will create a traveling sample of its artifacts to be displayed. The museum and its staff also will provide audio recordings, film and video, research and other expertise aimed at making the exhibit as historically sound and authentic as possible.
“The tour is designed to immerse fans in a country music experience,” Young explained. “It whets their appetite to come to Nashville and see the new Hall of Fame when it opens. This isn’t a traveling Hall of Fame. Rather, this experience is designed to bring more attention to our new, world-class facility in Nashville.”
Emersia, which is sinking $22.5 million into production and promotion, will begin building the attraction this fall in Hollywood. The exhibit will be transported city to city in 40-45 tractor-trailers. For the Good Times tentatively will launch in Salt Lake City next summer and will tour through 2003, visiting six cities in 2001 and a minimum of 20 more over the next two years. Emersia plans to take the show to the top 25 country markets in the U.S. and Canada as reflected in record sales.
For the Good Times will stay in each city for two or three weeks, and organizers expect to draw a minimum of 150,000 visitors at each stop. It will cost less than $60 for a family of four to see the show. The program is non-linear, allowing patrons to spend as much time in the show as they like. Emersia expects the average visit to last 60 to 90 minutes. The multimedia attraction will accommodate about 1,200 guests per hour.
Emersia Entertainment was formed last year. Principals of the company acted as executive producers of the Titanic official movie tour.