April’s grosses fooled us.
Something didn’t look right.
Every time I looked at the Broadway grosses during the month of April, my “Spidey Sense” went off. (And in case you don’t know, “Spidey Sense” for a Broadway Producer is a fear that the #s are as bad as the Broadway production of Spider-Man.)
It just felt like shows were grossing less than they should.
I don’t like doing anything on a hunch, so when the month came to an end, I quickly went on to the ol’ BroadwayLeague.com to research this year’s grosses in the “foolish” month of April and compared them to last year’s grosses during the same period.
But rather than look at the cumulative results, which is what we all usually do, I broke the grosses down in different levels, and what I found was disconcerting to say the least.
Take a look at this:
- In April of 2016, 23.7% of all Broadway shows grossed under $400,000 weekly.
- In April of 2015, that number was 17.8%.
Even though it’s a year later. Even though ticket prices are higher. And even though, at the end of April, the season’s cumulative Broadway grosses are up .7%, we’ve got almost 5% more shows doing less than $400k per week.
So, that tingling sensation I had was my Spidey Sense after all!
Interesting, no? And obviously, I don’t have to tell you, it ain’t easy to make money at less than $400k/week.
But like a great infomercial would say, “Wait, there’s more!” When I broke down that disappointing “Under $400k” number a bit further, look at what I found:
- In April of 2016, 14.2% of all Broadway shows grossed between $300-400k weekly.
- In April of 2015, that number was 7.9%
And . .
- In April of 2016, 8.2% of all Broadway shows grossed between $200-300k weekly.
- In April of 2015, that number was 4.2%
Yikes, right? You’re not only not making money at these levels, you’re most likely losing a lot of money.
So what’s the problem here?
Well, I don’t have to tell you that April is one of the busiest months on Broadway as shows rush to open before the Tony cut off at the end of the month.
And this year, well, wouldn’t you know it, we had 4.3% MORE playing weeks in April than in 2015.
So, what we saw this year is that more shows didn’t bring in more money. The same dollars were just spread around among more shows . . . which means more than usual had to suffer through pretty hefty losses.
Perhaps squeezing in to the party at the last minute isn’t such a good idea anymore if we’re going to continue to have so many shows on the boards. Perhaps there are different times of year that could get you more attention and more money.
It’s worth looking into because, unless Broadway stops putting up so much product, a lot of shows could end up with the joke on them.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.