The Long Chart of Grosses of The Longest Running Musical

Sometimes I think we forget what a story we have right under our noses masks.

The longest running Broadway musical of all time, The Phantom Of The Opera, is running right this very second just a few blocks away from where I’m typing this blog.

Many people may not remember, but there was a time when the Masked Man looked like he was going to sail off into the sunset.  But like the subject of another musical by the same Composer, Phantom seems to have nine lives, and it has been reborn again and again over the last . . . 28 (!) years.

As I passed by the Majestic Theatre the other day, I thought it might be interesting to look at those 9 lives/28 years . . . and their respective grosses.  So we graphed the grosses of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway since Day 1 . . . and added in some of the historical events that have happened along the way that could have influenced a rise or fall.

Here’s what she looks like:
phantom 1


Fascinating, right?  What a journey this show has been on!  For the first ten years, it looks like a traditional show’s trajectory . . . opens, grows, peaks and then slowly declines.  And you can see when it looked like it was going to shutter . . . at the bottom of that dip.

And then . . . boom.  All of a sudden it starts climbing and climbing to never before seen heights.

What happened?  Well, it’s pretty clear.  The Movie.  The grosses start to climb right before the movie is released (when the press/trailer/etc started to flood the market), and then they never look back.

Add variable pricing to that new found market penetration and it’s a formula for another decade of higher-than-ever grosses.

If ever there was proof that a movie (or, even a stream) can help a show, well this is it.  Especially since . . . . the movie of Phantom wasn’t even that good!

This is where this blog was supposed to end.

But at the last second, since we have sooooo many years of data, I thought I’d look at another graph of dollars and cents that look very interesting . . . the stock market.

Below is the grosses of Phantom . . . laid over the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the same period.

Here we go . . .





I mean, you see it too, don’t you?  You see the correlation of the chart starting in 1999?  It’s not exact, but the trend is similar.

I wonder if that means we can predict where the stock market is going to be next year based on Phantom’s advance.


(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 learning more about topics like this? CLICK HERE to join The TheaterMakers Studio, an online community, certification training program, and resource for playwrights, producers, directors, actors, and theater makers of all kinds!


  • Frank says:

    Sadly… most shows do not have the luxury of having such a lengthy chart/life. The vast majority of shows cannot even cross a single year.

  • Brad says:

    Impressive. It just goes to show you that if people love the brand, they will experience it multiple ways. The Phantom movie likely re-ignited the love for the Phantom brand and has been driving ticket sales.

    Its the reverse of Shrek. The Broadway show likely drove more interest in the movie property and even better, local theaters can perform the show—you can’t perform the movie (without lawsuits).

    Ultimately, Broadway plays a key role in entertainment brands. I hope Phantom hits 30+ years.

  • Dan Radakovich says:

    I think the concert version that Lincoln Cwnrwe out on and got a lot of airplay on PBS also helped inflate the grosses and time of presentation. And the flick was not all that bad though i did like the parody of Anne Hathaway pleading for the Oscar 🙂
    Myself i was never able to get tothe show inthe Us, I saw it at the Stockhom opera house in Swedish.[Which i do not speak, but heck i do not speak German, Russian, or Italian of eregular operas either-and find French and English ones hard to follow at best]

  • Sally says:

    I just read that the Motown Musical opening and closing in July. Only open for about 30 days. Does anybody know why?

    • Frank says:

      The same reason all shows close. Lack of advance ticket sells. They are trying to spin it as “this is the last stop on the tour,” but we all know that opening in the summer to bad ticket sells is the real reason it is closing.

      • Chris Marks says:

        Almost the only time a successful show closes early is when they 1) lose the theatre, 2) lose a name above title star with no equal level performer in the wings. “Motown” blew it. They pull the plug early on the original successful run (to tour), they lost their momenton and their buzz by leaving town. And, by touring, they gave much of America a chance to see the show and some of those folks are now enjoying a summer vacation in NYC and catching shows they didn’t see at home (like “Motown”). It was a calculated gimmick (leave and return) that simply didn’t work as planned. An 18 week run turned into a bit more than 4 weeks – it’s a big show with a big cast and apparently filling the house at 71%, as they did last week, wasn’t sufficient to keep the production running.

  • My Father’s music career also followed the economy very closely. When times were good, lots of recording and plays going on. When times were tight we ate pasta a lot.

  • Jennifer says:

    I would guess that the 2014 spike might correlate with the addition of Norm Lewis and the 25th anniversary celebration of the show in the US? All new costumes (and set pieces too I think).

  • Chris Marks says:

    While bottom line (total revenue) is undeniably impressive I personally would prefer to see total seat count as a more accurate comparable measurement. When “Phantom” opened in 1988 tickets prices were nowhere near where they are today. A full house (at full price) in 1988 wouldn’t tally anywhere close to what “Phantom” is pulling in now (2016) with less than a full house, deeply discount tickets and TKTS. I’m not complaining, the show’s success is amazing but charting their success without consideration for price increases is like comparing the take of “Gone With The Wind” in 1939 when a double feature cost a quarter to the revenue of most recent “Star Wars” movie with tickets in the $12 to $15 range.

Leave a Reply

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