CASE STUDY: A Gentleman’s Guide to Being Box Office Beautiful.

There were three Cinderellas on Broadway last season.

But I’m only interested in the two that didn’t feature R&H tunes and puppet mice.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical were the real Cinderella stories of the last year in my book.  Both began previews with “wait-and-see” futures, and now, well, you might as well put a sign on their theater doors that say, “No Vacancy.  Come back in a year or two.”

I normally don’t write these kind of blogs about the business of currently running shows.  But frankly, every Monday when I open my Broadway grosses email from the League, I find myself doing a double take at the numbers the shows are doing, so I decided it was worth a little digging.

What numbers?

Over the last 12 weeks (which includes the notoriously sh*tty September), Beautiful has grossed an average of $1,284,445.

In the same period, Gentleman’s Guide grossed an average of $889,659.

To put that in perspective, during the first 12 weeks of its run, Beautiful grossed an average of $741,577 and Gentlemen’s Guide grossed an average of $460,408.

That means both shows have increased their initial grosses by 73% and 93% respectively!

Now if that ain’t some growth, I don’t know what is.

As both shows approach their first birthday, let’s take a look at a graph of the grosses of both to see what we can surmise.

gg

Pretty fascinating stuff, right?

Here are a few bullet points of why I am so impressed and excited by the grosses of both of these shows, and what the graph above tells me.

  • Both shows opened without stars, which may have depressed their original advance, but which obviously didn’t matter in the long run.
  • Both shows are non-spectacles and don’t feature big sets, fancy costumes, etc.  Although both are period pieces.
  • Both shows are doing big musical business in small play houses.  Beautiful has a seating capacity of only 1026 and GG seats only 907, proving that a bigger theater isn’t always better.  Packing people into a small house and ratcheting up your average ticket price may actually extend the life of your show.  (The Book of Mormon was one of the first shows to prove this theory could work.)
  • GG began its uphill climb when the Tony Nominations were announced.  Why?  They got the most nominations of any show.  What happens when you get the most nominations is that all the press that comes out about the nominees features you in the headline.  That kind of free advertising, plus the “better than the pack” label that comes with getting the most, helps put butts in the seats and bucks in the box office.
  • GG got another boost when it won the award, like all Best Musical winners do.
  • Beautiful started off stronger (the jukebox quality being the marketing magnet, I’m sure) but flat until one very specific moment in time.  Carole King came to see the show.  Look at the chart!  It’s amazing!  That blessing and the press that came along with it (once again – press puts gas in the marketing tank) instantly pushed the box office up.  The nominations gave it another kick, and the appearance on the awards show (and Jessie Mueller’s win, for sure) gave it yet another, propelling it into the million dollar club.

Last year was an incredible year for the mid-sized musical, so if you’re working a show of your own that ain’t Spider-man sized or doesn’t have Hugh Jackman in the lead, don’t fret.

You can still get to the ball and marry the prince.

Congrats to the Producers and Artists of both shows.

 

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Comments
  • Aaron says:

    The other element of the Tony Awards that can’t be undersold is the GG performance. They picked the perfect number and it had people talking about it for the rest of the night and watching and rewatching the clip on YouTube. It was at that moment that the show went on my daughters must see list (before the show won best musical)

  • Brian S. says:

    Mr. Davenport,

    I found this blog post very informative and just wanted to thank you for sharing another insiders perspective 😉

  • Janet Preus says:

    I’m thrilled that shows that do not rely on spectacle are doing so well. I hope this is a lasting trend.

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