Did I say inflation? I mean Enflation.

Yearly_inflation_rate
In Monday’s post, the article I referred to mentioned a capitalization of Wonderful Town of $225,000 and a ticket price of $7.20 in 1954.

A reader turned me on to a site that could tell us what those numbers would be in today’s dollars, taking inflation into account, using the Consumer Price Index.

The results?

$1,725,934.60 cap.

and

$55.23 top ticket

Oh, if only a major Broadway musical could be done for $1.7 million.  And if only the tickets were only $55.23.

Wonderful Town in 2008 would probably be $10 million, more than 5 times the 1958 version when adjusted.

We’ve got our own version of inflation.  Expense inflation or Enflation as I call it.

Should we be surprised that recoupment is more and more delayed when are expenses are increasing so dramatically?

Yes, it’s the stagehands.  Yes it’s theater rent.  Yes, it’s health insurance.  Yes, it’s advertising.  Yes, it’s everything. And, as producers, we have to look at everything.

Interestingly enough, the article also mentioned a weekly nut for Town of $44,000 (a weekly “nut” on Broadway is a term used to decribed the amount of money required by a show to pay all its expenses, or the show’s breakeven).  .  Converting that to current dollars gets you $337,516.10.  That’s closer (I’d guess that a new revival would cost about $500k/week give/take).

This is a down and dirty statistical analysis, and inflation indexes don’t measure improvements in quality which come with price tags (although, if we can’t financially support it, maybe we shouldn’t buy it – would you buy a brand new computer with the best technology if you knew you might be out of work and lose your house in 3 months?).

However, even with these rough numbers, if I were looking to start addressing where our biggest Enflation has occured (and I am), I’d start with the upfront expenses.

At $15 million dollars a musical, we’re starting ourselves so far in the hole, it’s hard to get even halfway out.

And then we look like A-holes to our investors.

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Comments
  • Greg says:

    Rather than looking at salaries which, other than stars, have only moderately increased, maybe the real culprit is advertising and marketing costs. From everything that I hear, branding is unbelievably expensive. Also, as you correctly point out, theatre rental (supply and demand) has increased to ridiculous levels, along with producer’s royalties. Lots of lines in the 2008 budget that weren’t there 50 years ago.

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