Five Burning Questions About Britney’s Femme Fatale Tour

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Britney Spears kicks off her two-month Femme Fatale summer tour (with Nicki Minaj supporting) tonight in Sacramento (it wraps up August 13 in Toronto). Tomorrow, poorly-shot phone videos will give us an idea of what the performances will look like, but until then, there are five burning questions on the lips of fans and observers alike. Here’s a breakdown of what the answers might be:

HOW ARE TICKETS SELLING?
Britney’s fanbase was up in arms when Ticketmaster first offered presale tickets for the August 2 Nassau Coliseum stop of the tour (see for example the March 29 Perez Hilton post on the topic)but the story cooledwhen other venues’ prices were revealed to be less high. Nevertheless, a few Ticketmaster searches for tonight’s show found a number of options available for 8 seats in a row in the $47 ticket range (the second-lowest after the sold-out minimal-quantity $27 tickets), on both upper and lower levels of Sacramento’s Power Balance Pavilion. This is after 1,400 tickets (at the $47 and $87 price points) were discounted on Groupon (to $30 and $52 respectively). All told, over 18,000 tickets were sold at discounted prices through Groupon for fifteen of the first 24 dates of the tour. The Groupon deals for shows in Seattle, Winnipeg, Minneapolis, and Atlanta actually expired before all available discounted tickets were sold. A sixteenth Groupon deal is currently active for the August 6 Atlantic City date—and all of this is before tickets for August 9th’s Hartford, CT show have even gone on sale. All told, the shows look to be under-attended in smaller cities, even as, in metropolitan areas like Greater New York City, new shows have been added. It remains to be seen whether this could have been remedied by better price optimization, or whether the tour’s ambition was more outsized than its actual draw.

AFTER LACKLUSTER PERFORMANCES IN RECENT VIDEOS AND AWARD SHOWS, IS BRITNEY STILL A WORLD CLASS PERFORMER?
Not-quite-unbiased source Perez Hilton witnessed a dress rehearsal of the show, and moderately praised the show, comparing it favorably to the 2009 Circus tour and recent television appearances. He estimated that 40% of the show is sung live, compared to 0% in 2009. He also answers the question no one really wants to put into words: “Is it Old Britney? No.” (He refers, of course, to Spears prior to her knee injury, public media troubles, conservatorship, etc.)

WHO CARES ABOUT HER SINGING, WHAT’S SHE GOING TO LOOK LIKE?
Of course, many fans attending arena shows like this don’t care if the show is lip synced as long as it entertains. (Many enjoyed the heck out of the Circus tour, even as the spectacle dwarfed the performer.) So what’s in store this time around? Yesterday Extra previewed the costumes of some of the “femme fatale” personae Britney will adopt during the show, including “Egypt-inspired” gold chainmail and a “Marilyn moment” nodding to the iconic Seven Year Itch shot. The show promises pyrotechnics and an action-adventure plot that, in its leapfrogging of spaces and times, sounds something like Britney Spears as Carmen Sandiego. A JustJared report from the dress rehearsal found the show as spectacular and entertaining as Perez Hilton. On this front, at least, the show, by all accounts, will be an enormous success.

IS NICKI MINAJ GOING TO UPSTAGE BRITNEY?
Not a chance. Yes, Britney’s camp made a wise move by bringing a white-hot artist like Nicki Minaj on tour with her, but make no bones about it, this is Britney’s show and Britney’s audience. If Minaj were a more seasoned performer like, say, Rihanna, she wouldn’t have had to hitch herself to Britney’s wagon in order to play arenas. Certainly, putting Minaj on the bill probably helped tip the scales for a few ticketbuyers who were previously on the fence, but I’m sure Britney’s people have made it perfectly clear to Minaj’s entourage that Britney is the headliner and will not be upstaged.

WILL THIS TOUR BE ABLE TO RESUSCITATE INTEREST IN FEMME FATALE?
Hmmm, tough to say. While “Till The World Ends” is the biggest radio hit of Britney’s career, sales of Femme Fatale have been languishing. The record has been certified platinum by the RIAA, but that just means that Jive has shipped more than a million units; when you look at the actual sales, the record has yet to sell a half million copies here in the U.S. We can’t imagine that there are many people who are planning on attending these shows who haven’t already picked up the record, but between this tour and the release of Brit’s latest single, “I Wanna Go,” maybe she’ll be able to eclipse the sales of Blackout (990K) by the time fall rolls around.

If you’re hungry for more, Popdust has compiled a comprehensive guide to all the information that’s been leaked, teased, and rumored about the highly anticipated tour, including the look, the openers, and the setlist.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]