So . . . How much did Macbeth recoup anyway?

I talk to a lot of potential Broadway Investors . . . and one of the biggest fears I hear about Broadway investing is the myth that every show is a hit or a flop . . . a bullseye or a wild arrow that falls far from the target . . . a millionaire maker, or a big old zero.

Well, contrary to popular belief, Broadway, unlike Freshman English, is not pass/fail.

There are varying degrees of success in our industry, just as there are in any industry.  And, if the returns for every single show were public, we’d see that absolute wipeouts . . . shows that return 0% . . . are just as rare as shows that return 500%.  And, I’m still wagering as I did in this post about a Broadway Index Fund, that if we put all those returns together, Broadway would have a positive ROI overall.

Whose fault is it that the world thinks we’re a pass/fail biz?

Ours.

Shows only announce when they recoup.  So what do we expect people to think?

That’s why I’m going to announce exactly how much my Broadway production of Alan Cumming in Macbeth recouped . . . tomorrow.

But before I reveal the cold hard numbers, I want you to guess how much we recouped.  Comment below on where you think we ended up:  25%, 75%, 47%, 98% . . . or somewhere in between?  (Since we never announced we recouped, you can bet that the answer is somewhere between 0% and 100%.)

And before you guess, let me say that I’m not proud of that fact that we didn’t get to the finish line.  And it’s hard to even type these words, knowing that I’m about to admit a loss (and I got my investors approval before writing this blog, FYI).  But I think it’s important for the industry to start sharing these kinds of numbers . . . so that’s why I’m going to share mine, warts and all . . . tomorrow.

 

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Comments
  • Michael Stevens says:

    75% I do hope i am wrong and it is 98%

  • Keni Fine says:

    I’m guessing 68%, love to hear I’m on the low end.

  • First, thank you for doing this. Second, I’m gonna go with 92%.

  • David Merrick Jr says:

    78%

  • Jonathan Bach says:

    46.2%

  • Scott says:

    I will say 68%–Hopefully more!!

  • Sue says:

    Guessing 62%.

  • George says:

    Without knowing anything particular – I am guessing 75% – I think it pulled in a crowd of Theater Lovers – but WOM got around that it was a “one man show” and the casual theatre goer took a pass… dying to know!

  • LA Producer says:

    You shouldn’t run the Broadway grosses on Monday. 🙂 72.4% Of course, this would be based on YOUR estimate of 85% (average) capacity for run of show.

  • John David says:

    Ken,

    I hate to use the word blog because I think it has become dismissive. So let me say your article — like so many of your articles — has so much creativity, boldness and insight packed into such a small space. If it was a Broadway production, it would be a hit! Your leadership is moving Broadway forward — slowly, slowly sometimes — but forward. Thanks!!
    John

    PS Because the production costs were low, the answer is 60%

  • Maybe you already did this, and I missed it.
    Or maybe you plan to do this. But, whatever the
    percentage, can you work out which factors
    created this outcome? The issue of the one-man show has to be looked at, of course, but this show had a star who is a GREAT actor as well. And solid material, with a pretty outrageous and challenging treatment. If the audience is looking for something else
    elsewhere, what is it?
    I know, easy to ask. But how does one winnow out the factors, that’s what I’d like to know.
    Is there such a thing as a general audience, as
    opposed to a targeted one? (How big does a targeted audience need to be to insure success?) And does this general audience always want the same thing? Can it be influenced to be more flexible?

  • Hmm…. I’ll guess 63%

  • Hold on a second there!

    Does the statement that a theoretical Broadway Index would show a positive ROI mean what it implies?

    Can it be that investing in a Broadway show isn’t the black abyss that it is often made out to be? Particularly when you look at the way shows these days are packed to the gills with multitudes of producer/investors, spreading the risk around over most all of the shows that come in any given season, reducing the losses and sharing the winnings?

    Are all those bromides about big bad unions and high costs that prevent anyone from believing that there is any rational reason to invest in Broadway just spun from whole cloth?

    When a show partially recoups on Broadway, and then goes out on the road to make a profit, or sells rights to TV or movies, or piles up licenses from regional productions, the show still appears as a “flop” on Broadway, but the producers, of course, know better.

    Maybe we can move past the tired red herrings about unions and high costs of producing on Broadway and get back to the creating of Broadway shows that audiences want to see and can afford to support.

  • Greg Hartley says:

    I think it was 82%.

  • Kyle Abraham says:

    50%

  • Having attended your “How to Raise Money for Your Show” seminar this weekend, I am anxious to see more and learn more! And thank you for all that you do!! You are contributing more to the education of the producing theater community than any college ever has. I am also loathe to speculate on a number because we all know there are so many variables.

    Side note to all regular readers, if you get a chance to take ANY seminar from Ken, DO IT! He’s an amazingly insightful guy and incredibly accessible and helpful!

  • Christine Connallon says:

    I’m going lower but hope it was higher… My guess is 51%

  • Scott Kirschenbaum says:

    30-37.5%

  • I’m hoping the answer is 98, but I suppose I’d have to guess 75%.

    Thank you for deciding to share this information. I agree we need to change the way this business looks at itself.

  • Jenni says:

    Not sure about the numbers. All I have to say, was the show was absolutely incredible. If it was out longer, I planned to send many peeps to go and see it. Just phenomenal

  • Adam says:

    .. 98%, as I think you would have been close with this one.

  • Matt says:

    Your readership is so optimistic! Hardly anyone said under 50%. So I’m gonna be the pessimist in the group and say 41%.

  • Zanne Hall says:

    50%

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

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