The monarch herself oversees "The Queen's Ball: A Bridgerton Experience."
Give fans a hero moment in their favorite show. That's the goal of Greg Lombardo, head of experiences at Netflix and the man behind such events as "Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience" and "The Queen's Ball: A Bridgerton Experience."
Working with Netflix's consumer products team, Lombardo creates in-person and virtual events that support popular series. The activities help fans feel enveloped in each show's make-believe world, while both promoting the series and generating new revenue streams.
Early in the pandemic, people felt safest in their homes and cars, so Lombardo and his team designed events around those spaces. More than 350,000 fans went through "Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience," a dark, theme park–like drive through a parking structure in Los Angeles. Nearly 100,000 people have participated in the "Nailed It! At Home Experience," an amateur baking competition.
"Bringing Stranger Things to life created excitement, happiness and joy for people who yearned to get out of the house in some way, safely," Lombardo says. "For Nailed It!, we put baking kits in homes and created a live virtual event to help fans feel like they were on the show."
This year brings "The Queen's Ball: A Bridgerton Experience," "Stranger Things: The Experience" and an event based on The Witcher. Lombardo works with the shows' creators to come up with new storylines. Mockups help ensure that special effects are seamless. Test runs might find Lombardo using a stopwatch to figure out how to enhance the operation.
"At Bridgerton, guests have an audience with the queen and attend a ball with live music," he says of the event, which has been running this spring in Montreal, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Tickets start at forty-five dollars for the spectacle, which includes Regency-era décor, period costumes and, of course, cocktails.
Lombardo, who spent five years as artistic director of the National Shakespeare Company, wrote, produced and directed independent feature films before he started developing location-based entertainment. Prior to joining Netflix, he held various positions, including senior vice-president of location-based entertainment at 20th Century Fox.
Today, he says, Netflix launches events around the world for shows with broad global audiences, like Money Heist and Army of the Dead. "The members let us know what they want to see," Lombardo says. "Our goal is to entertain as many as possible."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #5, 2022, under the title, "Fostering Fantasy."