Do movie musicals boost box office? And by how much?
It has been almost a decade since the movie musical came back in fashion, thanks to Rob Marshall’s Oscar Winning Chicago in 2003. We’ve finally shed our geek status with Hollywood Execs as they’ve realized that the right musical could make make a fantastic and profitable flick.
What’s interesting to me, of course, is the “Economic Impact”, if you will, of those films on our industry. Broadway has pretty consistently had a banner year after year in the last ten, and without a doubt, I’d attribute a little bit of our swelling box office to the the plethora of movie musicals in the market.
And, of course, anecdotal evidence has been that a movie musical (even the not-so-good ones, which will remain nameless but rhyme with Schmantom) boost the numbers of its currently running sister show.
But is that really true? And, by how much?
My new intern, Andres, and I, did some data diving over the weekend and analyzed the grosses of six musicals that had movies open while they were still running on Broadway. We looked at their numbers six months prior to the movie opening, and six months after, to see if there was any kind of discernible difference.
Here’s what we found out:
Average gross 6 months prior to movie: $463,921
Average gross 6 months after movie: $536,366
Difference: +$72,445 or +15.6%
Average gross 6 months prior to movie: $843,472
Average gross 6 months after movie: $996,379
Difference: +$152,907 or +18.1%
Phantom of the Opera
Average gross 6 months prior to movie: $629,255
Average gross 6 months after movie: $729,316
Difference: +$100,061 or +15.9%
Average gross 6 months prior to movie: $378,019
Average gross 6 months after movie: $529,353
Difference: +$151,334 or +40%
Average gross 6 months prior to movie: $620,845
Average gross 6 months after movie: $735,373
Difference: +$114,528 or +18.4%
Average gross 6 months prior to movie: $802,355
Average gross 6 months after movie: $725,249
Difference: -$77,106 or -9.6% (!)
Even with The Producers aberration, the trend is pretty clear, don’t you think? We’re talking an overall average gain of
Now, obviously, certain factors may skew these figures a bit, like new stars, increased advertising campaigns, etc. But even with a margin of error of a few percent, the takeaway is more obvious than what mediocre movie musical I was talking about when I said it rhymed with Schmantom: If you’ve got a long running musical, and you can get a movie made, it will extend the life of your show.
In fact, there’s a current musical out right now (rhymes with Rock of Schmages) whose weekly average gross six months prior to their movie was $422,615 and in the past four weeks has posted an average of $488,731, an increase of $66,116, or 15.6%. Still early to tell the tale on that one, but it looks like the bet they took moving the show to the Helen Hayes and keeping it running is already paying off.
What does this mean for others? Will Cameron bring the current successful tour of Les Miz back to Broadway next year when the movie comes out? Just when will Universal pull the trigger on the movie version of Wicked (no doubt it will be timed when the show needs some sort of “spell” to lift its numbers)? Will Broadway Producers start looking to produce more movies independently if they can’t get a studio to buy their show??? (That last question is what has me the most excited.)
The bridge from Broadway to Hollywood has been rebuilt. And fortunately for us, the traffic is flowing both ways. Dollars and bodies are coming in. Audiences and investors are reaping the rewards.
And any Broadway Producer should now ask themselves how a movie could play into the strategy of their development of their new show.
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