What is the recoupment rate of REVIVALS in the last ten years? Part III

When I first started producing shows and had to talk to potential investors, I put musicals into two different metaphorical buckets to make the risk levels easier to understand.

I described the two categories of musicals (original and revival) like this:

New musicals were like stocks.  More risk, but a potential for a greater return.

Revivals of musicals were like bonds.  Less risk, but the upside was limited (lack of subsidiary rights participation, shorter runs, etc.)

Since then, I’ve produced new musicals and three revivals (Godspell, Spring Awakening and Once on This Island).

My experience with these shows as well as watching what has happened with the other revivals over the past few seasons has given me that reach-for-the-Tums uneasy feeling.

So, for this third blog in our three-part Recoupment Study (See Part I and Part II here), I decided to dig into the recoupment rate of Broadway musical revivals over the last ten years.

Here’s what I found out.

In the past ten seasons on Broadway, the recoupment rate for Broadway musicals is . . . drumroll please . . . 18.52%.

Did you pop a Tums yet?  Cuz I just downed four.

See, we know that the average recoupment rate on Broadway is 20% . . . and sure, sure, this revival recoupment rate isn’t that much under 20%, but it is under!  And we’re talking about revivals!  The “bonds” of Broadway!  A revival has brand awareness!  It also has a limited upside!  So it should be less risky.  But, in the past several years it has been more difficult to get your money back on a revival than a new musical.

Argh.

I wasn’t satisfied with just this info, so I decided to dig into this subject a little shallower . . . meaning I examined the data over the last 5 years to see if I could see a trend from the 10-year span to the five-year span.  What did I discover?

In the past five seasons on Broadway, the recoupment rate for Broadway musical revivals is . . . drumroll please . . . 16.67%.

That’s right.  It’s getting HARDER for revivals of musicals to get their money back on Broadway . . . despite their limited upside.

What does this mean?

It doesn’t mean that we should stop producing or investing in revivals.  But if we are going to produce a revival or invest in one, it does mean that we need to structure our deals with the Authors, Stars, Vendors, etc. differently, because the safety of a pre-existing theatrical brand isn’t enough anymore.  Based on this data, Producers and investors are going to need more of a reason to jump into a revival, or they will only focus on new shows . . . and leave the revivals to the Non-Profits.

Or maybe, as Little Shop and Fiddler have proven, the way to produce a revival today is to do it Off Broadway and not on.

But we need to do something, because while I am so proud of the three revivals I produced, one of which got me a Tony Award, the numbers have spoken and they are saying to this Broadway Producer, “Don’t produce another one.”

It’s hard not to listen to numbers.

– – – – –

Want to learn more about investing in Broadway, including how it works and tips on how to pick a “winner”?  Read the only book ever written on the subject.  Click here.

 

The Demographics of the Broadway Audience 2018-2019

One of the many great services of the Broadway League is the demographic survey they do of our audience.

It’s essential for any industry or business to find out who its customers are in order to . . .

  1. Tailor our marketing dollars towards the people who are coming to make our advertising more efficient.
  2. Find out who is NOT coming, so we can make concerted efforts to get them TO come.

The future of our industry and our art depends on the above, which is why these surveys are so important, and why I summarize them for you here.

Here are the top-level bullet points from this year’s demographic survey of the Broadway Audience:

  • In the 2018–2019 season, Broadway shows welcomed 14.8 million admissions, an all-time high.
  • Approximately 35% of those attendances were by people from the New York City metropolitan area.
  • Sixty-five percent of admissions were made by tourists: 46% from the United States (but outside New York City and its suburbs) and 19% from other countries.
  • This represents the highest number of attendances by foreign visitors in history— 2.8 million.
  • Sixty-eight percent of the audiences were female.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 42.3 years old. This average has hovered between 40 and 45 years old for the past two decades.
  • Along with the overall growth in attendance, the number of admissions by non-Caucasian theatregoers reached a record high of 3.8 million.
  • Of theatregoers age 25 or older, 81% had completed college and 41% had earned a graduate degree.
  • The average annual household income of the Broadway theatregoer was $261,000.
  • The average number of attendances by the Broadway theatregoer was 4.4 in the past year. The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprised only 5% of the audience, but accounted for 28% of all tickets (4.15 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees. The typical straight-play attendee saw seven shows in the past year; the musical attendee, four.
  • Respondents reported having paid an average of $145.60 per ticket.
  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they purchased their tickets online.
  • The average reported date of ticket purchase for a Broadway show was 47 days before the performance, four days more than the previous season.
  • Google was the most common initial source theatregoers named when they were asked where they looked for information about Broadway shows. Ticketmaster and Broadway.com followed Google.
  • Twenty-two percent said that they relied primarily on word-of-mouth from people they knew.
  • Most theatregoers attended in pairs or small groups of family or friends.
  • The vast majority of current theatregoers had some connection to theatregoing as a child.

 

Want your copy of the full report (which goes into MUCH more detail than the above?  Click here.)

Broadway Grosses w/e 01/26/2020: American Utopia Rises

Broadway grosses continued to drop last week. Nearly all shows posted grosses well below the previous week. Bucking the trending, however, was American Utopia whose $205 average
ticket boosted its haul in the final three weeks of performances. Overall, grosses fell 9% from the previous week with attendance dropping just 4%.
You can find the rest of the figures below, courtesy of The Broadway League:

 

Show Name Gross  TotalAttn  %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A SOLDIER’S PLAY $328,111.00 5,009 99.25% $65.50
AIN’T TOO PROUD $1,254,912.40 10,180 89.36% $123.27
ALADDIN $1,118,994.90 13,157 95.23% $85.05
AMERICAN UTOPIA $1,180,829.00 5,766 100.00% $204.79
BEETLEJUICE $1,145,688.10 11,900 99.63% $96.28
CHICAGO $628,048.15 7,494 86.74% $83.81
COME FROM AWAY $894,079.84 8,478 101.31% $105.46
DEAR EVAN HANSEN $1,035,421.06 7,986 101.45% $129.65
FROZEN $1,001,849.00 12,659 93.97% $79.14
GRAND HORIZONS $216,238.46 4,346 92.86% $49.76
HADESTOWN $1,122,009.00 7,432 101.20% $150.97
HAMILTON $2,674,005.00 10,752 101.51% $248.70
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO $1,018,786.00 12,976 100.00% $78.51
JAGGED LITTLE PILL $1,021,505.20 8,901 98.90% $114.76
MEAN GIRLS $856,636.00 9,249 94.38% $92.62
MOULIN ROUGE! $1,652,702.00 10,449 100.32% $158.17
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON $537,802.20 4,470 98.85% $120.31
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,021,700.80 8,083 96.50% $126.40
THE INHERITANCE $424,249.50 4,764 56.82% $89.05
THE LION KING $1,615,226.00 12,955 95.48% $124.68
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $773,134.20 9,868 76.85% $78.35
TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL $1,536,310.00 11,541 97.61% $133.12
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD $1,494,086.94 11,548 100.59% $129.38
WEST SIDE STORY $1,590,210.50 13,920 100.00% $114.24
WICKED $1,469,430.50 14,296 98.89% $102.79
TOTALS $27,611,965.75 238,179 95.11% $115.39
+/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON -2,370,414.55      
PERCENTAGE +/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON -7.91%

Today’s blog was guest-written by Ryan Conway, President of Architect Theatrical. Find out more here!

What is recouping on Broadway anyway? Part II.

Last week, I published the results of some research I did into the recoupment % of new Broadway musicals over the last half a decade.

The conclusion was that the % of those musicals that are recouping is consistent with the age ol’ industry average of about 20%.

But after I did the math, I took a deeper look at the actual new musicals in this period that were in the black.

Here they are:

Fun Home
Waitress
School of Rock
Hamilton
Dear Evan Hansen
Come From Away
The Band’s Visit
Ain’t Too Proud*
Hadestown

*An assumption based on current grosses.

It’s a fascinating list . . . isn’t it?  Do you see what I see?

Only one of them, School of Rock, is a “big” movie to musical adaptation (Waitress and Band’s Visit were films – but not high profile by any means).

And the only jukebox tuner to make money (we’re assuming this) is Ain’t Too Proud.  

The rest, a whopping 78% . . . are small to medium-sized musicals, and most of them with small to medium-sized brands (or in the case of one of the biggest successes, Dear Evan Hansen, NO pre-existing brand).

And none, zero, opened with any Hollywood stars.

So, while it’s easy for Broadway Producers, Broadway Investors and even Broadway Theatergoers to think that what is making money on Broadway are the giant movie-to-musical adaptations or big-budget spectacles . . . that’s just not the case.

Just because they’re making it to Broadway, doesn’t mean they are making it on Broadway.

And if you were choosing a show to produce, invest in, or write, you might opt for the lesser-known, more original, and unique properties rather than the big-branded one.

It might seem like more risk on the way in, but the numbers say these types of musicals are actually less risky than the others . . . especially since their running costs are typically lower, which means higher profit margins when they do recoup (again, see Dear Evan Hansen).

But what I love about the 78% of those new musicals that are cashing in is this:

Take a second and look at the subjects of these new musicals.  The story of Alexander Hamilton told through hip hop.  A teenager dealing with anxiety who may be suicidal.  A lesbian comic book writer whose secretly gay father kills himself.  What happens in a Canadian town after 9/11.  A show that has “Hades” in the actual title!!!

I’d bet you the capitalization of all of them, combined, that at one point, someone said to every single one of the creators of these shows . . . “This should never be a musical.”

And not only are they musicals, but they are money-making musicals.

So to the TheaterMakers, make what you wanna make.  That’s where your heart . . . and the money is.

– – – – –

Like this series?  It’s not over yet.  Next week, I tackle REVIVALS.  Sign up here to be the first to read the results of my research.

Broadway Grosses w/e 01/19/2020: Oh, Not A Beautiful Mornin’

Last week grosses dipped slightly by 3% to $30M. The holiday weekend did not bring the typical attendance boost, which actually dropped by 4%.

Two productions played their final performances last week. Both Oklahoma! and Slave Play played to full houses for their final bows.

You can find the rest of the figures below, courtesy of The Broadway League:

Show Name Gross TotalAttn  %Capacity Avg.PdAdm
A SOLDIER’S PLAY $320,552.50 5,472 94.87% $58.58
AIN’T TOO PROUD $1,359,169.30 10,780 94.63% $126.08
ALADDIN $1,147,278.40 13,022 94.25% $88.10
AMERICAN UTOPIA $1,137,504.00 5,766 100.00% $197.28
BEETLEJUICE $1,357,341.20 11,711 98.05% $115.90
CHICAGO $653,891.30 7,186 83.17% $91.00
COME FROM AWAY $901,336.70 8,494 101.51% $106.11
DEAR EVAN HANSEN $1,059,025.14 7,918 100.58% $133.75
FROZEN $1,050,845.00 12,219 90.70% $86.00
GRAND HORIZONS $215,800.68 3,722 79.53% $57.98
HADESTOWN $1,254,171.50 7,445 101.38% $168.46
HAMILTON $2,724,599.00 10,758 101.57% $253.26
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO $1,177,060.00 12,976 100.00% $90.71
JAGGED LITTLE PILL $1,089,725.30 9,032 100.36% $120.65
MEAN GIRLS $971,684.50 9,349 95.40% $103.93
MOULIN ROUGE! $1,780,175.50 10,419 100.03% $170.86
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON $408,244.80 4,462 98.67% $91.49
OKLAHOMA! $672,071.30 5,389 103.48% $124.71
SLAVE PLAY $775,716.20 6,332 99.81% $122.51
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,151,435.25 8,358 99.79% $137.76
THE INHERITANCE $482,254.04 5,386 64.24% $89.54
THE LION KING $1,687,677.00 12,804 94.37% $131.81
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $881,005.32 9,872 76.88% $89.24
TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL $1,643,762.00 11,752 99.39% $139.87
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD $1,637,162.00 11,596 101.01% $141.18
WEST SIDE STORY $1,430,906.00 12,180 100.00% $117.48
WICKED $1,472,994.00 13,605 94.11% $108.27
TOTALS $30,443,387.93 248,005 95.10% $120.83
+/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON -$1,255,801.84      
PERCENTAGE +/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON -3.962%
Today’s blog was guest-written by Ryan Conway, President of Architect Theatrical. Find out more here!
Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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