The Business of Broadway – April 2018

Apparently, Winter loves to be fashionably late, this year. International travel can be a pain but, it also can connect us on many levels. This month, have some updates to that effect.

 

http://www.justlearnsomething.us/updates-april-2018/

 

 

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Updates: April 2018

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April 1, 2018

Chapter 5 (Marketing), Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors), Chapter 13 (Box Office)

While this book is not about London’s West End, we can gain insight into how ticket prices rise and how much of it ends up as profit. For example, in London, about 20% goes to cover the cost of production and 20% pays the VAT (taxes). In New York, we do not have admission taxes (see The Turkus Award in Chapter 4). Another 20% goes into marketing and promotion (as well as group sales commissions etc.). Theatre costs (including utilities, staff etc.) eats up about 7%. Royalties of all sorts can add up to 20%, leaving profits of 13% on each ticket sold at 50 pounds (L50).

Of course, L50 is dirt-cheap compared to Broadway prices, but it still represents a significant rise in West End prices. The UK has always subsidized its theater community. America does very little in comparison. Also, theater costs on Broadway can be significantly higher. So while these percentages are not exactly the same for a New York show, they do help to break down where the consumer’s money is going.

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The Business Of Broadway – March 2018

March is here! We look forward to new productions moving onto The Great White Way, we spring forward and we eagerly anticipate the change in the weather. Yet, the Business of Broadway continues to change. Here are the updates for March 2018.

 

Updates: March 2018

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Updates: March 2018

March 1, 2018

Chapter 5 (Marketing, Promotion etc.)

International Travelers: Research is now telling us that 17.5% of Broadway customers are from other countries. Broadway Inbound is a company that specializes in marketing to these countries, and BroadwayCollection.com uses many other languages to do the selling.

Appendix

International marketing: BroadwayCollection.com & BroadwayInbound.com

New Free App: Broadway News (insider info)

Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors)

Phantom of the Opera turns 30 this year! And it almost didn’t happen. Composer Andrew Lloyd Weber’s wife was turned down by Actors’ Equity when he applied for a work visa claiming she was a one-in-a-kind star. Of course, in those days in the U.S., she was not a star. Equity’s job is to protect American acting jobs and AEA must approve all foreign actors working in the U.S.- usually by guaranteeing an equal number of American actors working in foreign countries like the U.K. Well, the powerful Mr. Weber eventually won and Sarah Brightman opened the show on Broadway.

 

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Updates: 2017

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The Business of Broadway is essential reading for anyone interested in producing, investing, or working in theatre. Engaging and illuminating, Mitch Weiss and Perri Gaffney explain the myriad of people and roles they play to collaborate on a show from development to opening night and beyond.


 UPDATES FOR READERS OF “THE BUSINESS OF BROADWAY”

2017 Updates

January 2017

March 2017

April 2017

May 2017

July 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017


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Updates: January 2018

 

January 1, 2018

Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors)
Last month, the Broadway League filed suit in Federal Court against some of the top Casting Directors, accusing them of violating Antitrust Laws. The casting directors have been trying to unionize as they remain one of the very few “creatives” on Broadway who are not protected by a union and therefore do not receive Pension or HealthCare payments. One casting director was fired from a job (casting the reading of a new musical) because of her request for pension and health payments.

Chapters 10 & 13 (Producers & Investors, Box Office)
During the last week of December, when several Broadway shows played a nine-show week and increased their premium ticket prices, Broadway brought in $50.3 million, besting last year’s record of $49.7 million. Several Broadway shows set all-time box office records, with “Hamilton” bringing in the highest gross ever recorded for a Broadway show in a regular week, at $3.85 million, and “Chicago” raking in $1.26 million, the most the show has made in its 21 years on Broadway.
Overall, Broadway grossed $1.64 billion in 2017, with average attendance topping the past three years, at 13.74 million.

Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors)
Life after Broadway. Jersey Boys which closed on Broadway last year is the latest hit show to move to an Off-Broadway complex (New World Stages). The show reduced its cast size and earned over $520,000 during the holiday week in December, breaking venue records. Another hit show that has done the same and is still doing well is Avenue Q.

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Updates: December 2017

December 1, 2017

Chapter 12: (Surprises)

At the end of every season (Tony time in June), the Broadway League updates its list of the longest running shows in Broadway history. “The Business of Broadway is accurate as of 2015 (directly below) so we’re updating the list to 2017:

2015: Broadway’s top twenty longest running shows are all musicals except Life with Father and Tobacco Road, both produced in the 1940’s. After decades of new dramas and comedies, it is surprising that these plays remain on the current list. Six of the top twenty (Phantom, Chicago, The Lion King,Mamma Mia!, Wicked, and Jersey Boys) are still running. Here’s the list as of 2014 according to Playbill.com and the Broadway League, although current shows will be moving up on the list. 1) The Phantom of the Opera (over 10,600 performances and counting); 2) the revival of Chicago (over 7,500 and counting); 3) Cats (7,485 performances); 4) Les Miserables (6,680); 5) The Lion King (over 6,500 and counting); 6) A Chorus Line (6,137); 7) the revival of Oh, Calcutta (5,959); 8) Beauty and the Beast (5,461); 9) Rent (5,123); 10) Mamma Mia! (over 5,000 and counting); 11) Wicked (over 4,500 and counting); 12) Miss Saigon (4,097); 13) 42nd Street (3,486); 14) Grease (3,388); 15) Jersey Boys (over 3,500 and counting); 16) Fiddler on the Roof (3,242); 17) Life with Father (3,224); 18) Tobacco Road (3,182); 19) Hello, Dolly (2,844); 20) My Fair Lady (2,717); Honorable mentions go to Hairspray, Mary Poppins, The Producers, Avenue Q, and the Roundabout Theatre revival of Cabaret.

June 2017: Broadway’s top twenty longest running shows are all musicals except Life with Father and Tobacco Road, both produced in the 1940’s. After decades of new dramas and comedies, it is surprising that these plays remain on the current list. FOUR of the top twenty (Phantom, Chicago, The Lion King, and Wicked) are still running. Here’s the list as of June 2017 according to Playbill.com and the Broadway League, although current shows will be moving up on the list. 1) The Phantom of the Opera (over 12,200 performances and counting); 2) the revival of Chicago (over 8,500 and counting); 3) The Lion King (over 8,100 and counting); 4) Cats (7,485 performances); 5) Les Miserables (6,680); 6) A Chorus Line (6,137); 7) the revival of Oh, Calcutta (5,959); 8) Wicked (over 5,800 and counting); 9) Mamma Mia! (5,758); 10) Beauty and the Beast (5,461); 11) Rent (5,123); 12) Jersey Boys (4,642); 13) Miss Saigon (4,092); 14) 42nd Street (3,486); 15) Grease (3,388); 16) Fiddler on the Roof (3,242); 17) Life with Father (3,224); 18) Tobacco Road (3,182); 19) Hello, Dolly (2,844); 20) My Fair Lady (2,717); Honorable mentions go to Hairspray, Mary Poppins, The Producers, Avenue Q, and Book of Mormon).

Chapter 10 (Investing and Producing)

No surprise that January is a weak month for ticket sales (except for monster hits). Therefore it is not big news that at least 5 shows have already announced that they will shutter their doors in mid-January, if not before.

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Updates: The Business of Broadway – November 2017

If you ever wonder why anyone thinks they can make a profit on Broadway and Off Broadway, we have two great examples last month…

Updates: November 2017

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Updates: November 2017

November 1, 2017

Chapter 10: (Producing and investing)

If you ever wonder why anyone thinks they can make a profit on Broadway and Off Broadway, we have two great examples last month. The “sleeper hit” Come From Away paid back its $12+ million dollar costs in full after only 8 months. From here on in, the investors will see profits on Broadway, on tour, if televised or filmed, with CD sales etc. etc.

The other big surprise is the Off-Broadway revival of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd playing in a tiny theater. It recouped its $1.2 million dollar investment in just 24 weeks. Perhaps the lesson from these two shows is that you need a HIT to do well. And that’s why investing is such a crap-shoot.

Rock icon Bruce Springsteen’s audiences are willing to pay the highest box office prices ever recorded on Broadway, an average of $457 per ticket, almost double that of Hamilton’s regular-priced seats. Of course, the scalpers are finding the richer audiences are willing to pay between $3,000 and $12,500 for a pair of seats to Springsteen. Amazing.

Of course, the shows described above (Come From Away and Sweeney Todd) paid back their investors without exorbitant prices. Supply and ridiculous demand?

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Updates: October 2017

October 1, 2017

 

CORRECTION: In the Union chapter as well as in each individual mention of a union, it should be noted that New York is not a “Right to Work” State – which means Unions can compel an employee to join.

Even though my union ATPAM and most other Broadway unions have a Union Security Clause in their contracts (known as the “30 day rule”), first time contract signers are rarely compelled to join a union. But if they are signed to a second contract job, unions will make them take out their checkbook and pay initiation dues and work dues.

 

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

Carrying the Equity card is often considered a rite of passage for American actors, with many artists waiting years for an opportunity to join the union. As it stands, basic dues are $118 per year. Working dues come in at 2.25 percent of gross earnings up to $300,000 earned under Equity contracts. Now after a historic vote, members have overwhelmingly approved a dues increase adding $50 for basic dues in the first year, and rising incrementally to reach a final amount of $176/year.

 

CHAPTER 5 (Marketing, Promotion)

The Shubert Organization, the largest owner of Broadway theaters, has recently incorporated a program called “Persado” into its email marketing. Persado learns which “subject line” content engages customers most and adjusts on-the-fly to improve chances that customers will open the email (“open rates”) and improve chances that customers will them buy tickets (“conversion rates”). “Big Brother” is close at hand. 

 

Chapter 10: (Producing and investing)

            As expected, 3 more 2017 shows bit the dust around Labor Day. August is a tough month, but early September is even tougher.

 

Chapter 14 (Press Agents)

            New salary rates for Press Agents are as follows:

$2,271.54 minimum for press agents + 8.5% vacation weekly (plus health/pension)

 

Chapter 18 (Managers)

            New salary rates for Company & House managers are as follows:

$2,124.16 minimum for managers + 8.5% vacation weekly (plus health and pension)

 

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