Sure, These Broadway Shows Recouped! But Why? A By the Numbers Infographic. (Updated 2018).

I got such terrific feedback from our Best Musical Infographic that broke down the similarities and differences of the Best Musical Tony Award Winners of the last twenty years, that I had to do another one.

(I’m not surprised that the infographic got the pickup it did, by the way. There is nothing like data.  And there’s nothing like seeing that data in a simple, easy to digest way.  Remember this when putting together your materials for potential investors in your shows.)

When coming up with the idea for this next infographic I thought . . . what does every Broadway Producer want?  Even more than a Tony Award for Best Musical?  Recoupment!  We all want recoupment!

Recouping musicals not only pays the bills, but recoup a show, and your investors are much more likely to fund your next project.  And maybe they’ll even be up for some more risk, which allows you to maybe tap an unknown writer or a more ambitious play.  So recoupment is an obvious goal for all.

My trusty assistant Dylan and I did a deep, deep data dive into the last twenty years of new Broadway musicals, and determined which musicals recouped and which didn’t (we found press releases, news articles, and sometimes used plain common sense – and I also called some of my not-to-be-revealed sources from within a few offices in town – in order to determine that recoupment status).  Then, we crunched numbers like crazy and analyzed trends of the yeses and the nos to create the infographic below.

The results were fascinating.  This infographic proves that if recoupement is your sole goal, then you can stack the deck in your favor based on how you build your show.

Enjoy the info and make sure to share it on Facebook and Twitter.


We Recouped! But Why- (3)


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

Interested in more about recoupment? Check out my post What Broadway Theaters Give you the Best Shot at Recoupment to take an inside look at the stats surrounding the recoupment rates of theaters. Also be sure to check out Does a Revival’s Success Depend on the Success of the Original to see the stats I found on the multitude of revivals we’ve seen come through Broadway.

Get more knowledge about the industry, monthly newsletters and webinars—like Breakin’ Down a Broadway Budget, plus a Tip of the Week email, when you join TheProducersPerspectivePRO today.

Join the club here.

  • Isaac says:

    Ken, it would be useful to know the raw numbers in addition to percentages. How many shows recouped under your calculations?

    • Chris says:

      I second this! It’d be really helpful to see the numbers, not just the infographic.

    • Rich Mc says:

      I agree, this analysis is less than meaningful unless you publish the number of shows that recouped by year, and better, NAME THEM. [For shows that didn’t publicly announce simply add an *]

      • Need facts, Mam, just the facts… no infographics… From J … ” Now all we need to do is create a period piece adaptation about adult Caucasians that can win the Tony for best score, book, and musical… 🙂 I agree it would be helpful to see the names of shows, especially those that didn’t win a Tony, to see if there is alternate path to recoupment.

  • This is AWESOME! Great research and presentation.
    Now do one for plays, please. 🙂

  • Adolpho says:

    Are you not including “Fosse” as a dance musical? You mention that only 1 (“Movin’ Out”) was a dance musical. How are you classifying this?

  • Carvanpool says:

    Zero context. Zero usefulness.

  • Jed says:

    Open in the spring. Check. And it’s still no surprise that 80% of the shows don’t recoup. Thank god there are ‘patrons of the arts’, or no sane investor would come near it.

    • Chris says:

      This is about the same return rate a Venture Capital. Those shows that recoup can become huge cash cows (think Jersey Boys that eventually returned 38X an initial investment).

  • John David says:

    This is absolutely brilliant!

  • Broadway Statistician says:

    How did you quantify whether or not someone was a so-called “star?”

  • J says:

    Fantastic! Thanks for doing this Ken. Now all we need to do is create a period piece adaptation about adult Caucasians that can win the Tony for best score, book, and musical… 🙂 I agree it would be helpful to see the names of shows, especially those that didn’t win a Tony, to see if there is alternate path to recoupment.

    Btw: were the Lion King and Wicked classified as period pieces? Need a category for fantasy/non-human

  • Matthew says:

    This info would be much more helpful if it were compared with some overall numbers. For example, 81% had Caucasian protagonists. This seems impressive, but if 95% of all musicals had Caucasian protagonists, than it actually means you have a better chance of recouping with a musical with non-Caucasian protagonists. It would mean that 18% of musicals with Caucasian protagonists recouped, while 80% of musicals with non-Caucasian protagonists recouped.

  • Anonymous says:

    Agree with Matthew – there’s a huge bias in the data here and it cannot be used to tell producers what elements should be considered in their next musical. Be careful with data!

  • Iris says:

    Certainly very interesting. But I’m wondering, both statistic (this and Best Musical Tony one) imply that female lead shows/female producers/female writers are less successful. But there are fewer shows out there with female leads or females in the creative team, right? So I’d be interested to see what percentage of these shows win Tony’s and/or recoup?
    … Just looking at what Matthew just said with Caucasian/non-Caucasian, that’s the same thing I guess.

  • Michael Gilboe says:

    it seems to me that 25% of recouping shows being completely original is a good number.


    I suspect, but would love to know for sure, that out of ALL new musicals produced on Broadway, far less than 25% of them are completely original.

    If that is true, it could shake the bias that adaptations are the best way to go… If the originals recoup at a higher percentage than the adaptations.

  • Eilean says:

    Agree with people who ask actual names of shows. While it is interesting to know the percentages it’s a waste of time if we don’t know the show names as we may choose to perform shows that did not recoup. Even if you listen only the top ten, it would be useful.

  • Brooke Tansley says:

    This is fascinating – thanks! Fun fact: Hairspray was the first musical that paid actors a bonus – in accordance with a then-new Equity rule – for recouping within a particular period of time (I don’t remember what it was, but I seem to be remembering that it was some amount of months.)

  • Fran Clairmont says:


    Love the info but would like to see more! I.e. names would be great and some info on attendance would also be interesting. I can’t help but wonder if some shows like First Date or Holler if You Hear Me were just not “Broadway Shows” or if attendance plagued them. In which case is that what happened to Last Ship (which I saw and thought was quite good, but wondered who thought a winter opening would be a good idea)?

    Also how much is the marketing budgets of the ones that recouped and the ones that didn’t? Last but not least – this is something I wonder about: If a producer brings a new work to Broadway isn’t it safer to have a show on Monday night and go dark on a different night since there is much less competition on Monday nights (or Sunday nights)? If the tourist audience had a new show to see on Monday night (in lieu of Phantom, Rock of Ages, or Chicago – all of which have been out many, many years, and have had movies and tours), I think it would be a positive for a new musical. I blow into to town and want to see as many shows as I can during the week. If there were new shows on Sunday and/or Monday night, I would go see them. I would imagine tourists would as well. I make my living as a marketing strategist for the communications industry and am surprised at times with the marketing down for Broadway shows. Sometimes it is great and really creative and other times dull and boring which may or may not impact the BIS (Butts in Seats).

    Any data or thoughts you have on these subjects would be great to hear!

  • Going back many decades, just a little better than one out of five shows have recouped. Your data is totally consistent with last half 20th Century. Also, little difference between plays and musicals

  • Selina Rosales says:

    Has any research been done on the percentage of plays that recoup their investments? Is there a reason why Broadway is synonymous for plays?

  • David Neal says:

    Hello Mr. Davenport,

    I greatly appreciate your time and effort in putting together this Infographic on successful Broadway Musicals as well as your website in general. I believe the only thing better than first hand experience is being able to find someone who is willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you! As they say, if you want to be successful, find someone who not only already is successful but is also willing to tell you how he did it. Again, thank you for sharing.
    After studying your graphic, “A Gentlemans Guide to Love and Murder” immediately came to mind. The only parameter which it did not fulfill was that of “Best Score” which, in my opinion, “Guide” should have won. Although, Steven Lutvak was nominated. I believe every box on your Infographic will be ticked when this show transfers to the West End. Although I have no financial interest or direct connection to this show, I have followed its “Life Cycle” since Sundance over 12 years ago. When I saw your Graphic, it occurred to me that “Guide” would be an excellent show to study from not only an artistic point of view but also from the business side of recouping!
    Again, thank you for your informative and very useful website. I for one appreciate it very much!

    David Neal
    Chicago, Illinois

  • Your time frame seems to be about 10 years; why not 20 or 30 as better statistics ?

    Some shows I knew; others were new; and I think a longer overview is worth it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *