What is the success rate of movies-to-musicals anyway?

I’m going to admit it.

Not only do I read Michael Riedel’s twice-a-week Broadway gossip column in the NY Post, but I actually enjoy his stuff . . . even when he’s cracking on one of my shows, and he certainly has.  Deep down the guy loves theater, like all of us, and frankly, some of his columns have been a lot more enjoyable to read than a whole bunch of shows I’ve seen over the years.

In last week’s column, Michael wrote something that made me want to dig a bit deeper.  While slamming Sister Act before it has even gotten to our shores, he said . . .

This is yet another one of those screen retreads that, with few exceptions (“Hairspray,” “The Producers”), have been draining the joy out of musical comedy.

When I read it, I nodded in agreement.  I think all of us feel that movies-turned-musicals are a more miss than hit business, right?

But let’s go to the numbers.

By my count, I’ve got 21 movie-to-musicals in the last 10 years.

And I’m also counting that 7 of them made money.

That’s a 1 in 3 recoupment ratio, which easily trumps the anecdotal average of 1 in 5 that we all quote.

Not so bad, right?  All of a sudden a whole bunch of you when straight to your Netflix account to see what you could turn into a musical, didn’t you?

Well, it gets better.

When you look at the number of those shows that might not have recouped on Broadway, but ran over a year (thus increasing potential subsidiary life, etc.), the number jumps to 14 out of 21.

Now Michael wasn’t talking commercial success . . . he was talking about his own definition of joy.  And, frankly, I know exactly what he’s talking about.

But from an investor’s perspective (and an audience’s as well, since longer running shows means more folks are seeing them), there has been more joy than we may want to admit.

A Will It Recoup Update. How is Broadway doing this Spring?

You forgot about this contest, didn’t you?

Back in February, we launched our second ‘Will It Recoup’ fantasy Broadway investment game and put a Kindle on the line.

The name of the game says it all (just like the name of your show should reflect exactly what your show is about).  It’s your job to pick the winners from the floppers in the Spring season.

So how are you (and the Broadway Producers) doing so far?

Here’s what we know and what we don’t:

A View from the Bridge: RECOUPED!
The Miracle Worker: Did NOT recoup.
A Behanding in Spokane: Did NOT recoup.
Next Fall: Did NOT recoup.
Looped: Did NOT recoup.
Red: RECOUPED!
Lend Me A Tenor: Too soon to tell.
Fences: RECOUPED!
Enron:  Did NOT recoup.

So that makes a total of 3 Broadway shows out of 9 that have recouped already. That’s a pretty bountiful Spring, considering the statistical average is 1 out of 5 (although it is certainly not a coinky-dink that two of the three shows that have recouped featured Hollywood mega-stars Denzel Washington and Scarlett Johansson).

Still, the game is not over.  We’ve still got one show on the fence.  We could have quite a good year if it falls into the win column.

How are you doing?

Well, there are 27 of you who picked those three shows to recoup, and the five shows that did not.  27 of you are still in the money!

So…it all comes down to Lend Me a Tenor.

See you in August!

First recoupment and now this!

It’s raining good news over at the Booth Theatre on Broadway.

Less than two weeks ago, the unlikely hit, Next to Normal, defied expectations and announced that it had recouped its investment.

Yesterday, in another “shocking” turn of events (get it?), N2N took home the biggest drama prize of them all . . . The Pulitzer!

To say that this was a surprise, would be like saying Alice Ripley’s character in N2N is just “in a mood.”

From the sound of the fallout, the choice was a surprise to the prize.jpgckin’ insiders as well.

First, Charles McNulty of the LA Times, and a member of the Drama Jury that was chosen by the Pulitzer Board to give recommendations on nominees, ripped the board a new one for ignoring the Jury’s recs in his article entitled, “On The Year’s Drama Award, The Pulitzer Board Blew It.”

Then came Patrick Healy’s revelation that “a lot” of Pulitzer Board Members saw N2N the night before their important vote for the winner (and you and I both know that awards are most likely to go to shows that are “fresh” in voters’ minds, right?).

And this morning, the HE in DidHeLikeIt Himself, Mr. Ben Brantley, wrote a very interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times expressing his frustration about the process, having been the Chairman of the Drama Jury in 2007, when the board overrode the Jury’s recommendations as well.

Whatever happened, it’s a fantastic story for a show that almost didn’t make it to Broadway and has now not only recouped, but also been awarded an incredible distinction.

Will this big prize have an impact at the BO?  Let’s watch and see . . . (my guess is that the people who the Prize means the most to have already seen the show, although I’d also bet that the ad agency is designing a big sign for the front of the theater to trumpet this news to all those tourists).

Congratulations to everyone involved for this incredible honor.  I’m sure they are all thrilled.

In fact, I heard a rumor that that lead character was so happy about the big win, it cured her depression.

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Normal is only the 8th musical to take home the P Prize, and it’s in great company.  Can you name the other seven?  Give it a shot, then click here for the answer.

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