What Broadway theaters give you the best shot at recoupment?

When I can’t sleep, I count things.  So this blog is sponsored by this nagging cough I have and the meds that are keeping me up tonight.

You’ve heard the old adage about real estate, right?  Location, Location, Lo-you get the picture-cation.  Certainly that holds true for theater as well, right?  As I teach in our Broadway Investing Seminar, a theater on 45th St. has got a lot more value than a theater east of 7th Avenue (it’s all about the foot traffic).  But could it mean the difference between recouping and not?

Lots of things go into whether or not a show succeeds financially, but for this blog, I decided to look at the recoupment rates of Broadway theaters.  Specifically, I decided to look at all the shows in every Broadway house since “the year 2000”, and calculate the percentage of those shows that recouped . . . just for fun.  (I wanted to go back further, but the data gets a little spotty back then.)

A few notes and disclaimers:

  • I didn’t analyze the non-profit theaters, because, well, who the heck knows how those shows do.
  • I also didn’t count non-profit productions that played commercial houses or special engagements (e.g. touring David Copperfield), or solo shows (including my own Will Ferrell’s You’re Welcome America, which did recoup).  I also eliminated some transfers and other productions that may have recouped elsewhere first or shows that just opened this season and it’s too early to tell.
  • To determine if a show recouped or not, I used a combination of press releases (since most Producers scream it from the hills when their show recoups), some insider information, and my good ol’ gut.  I think I’m pretty dang close, but because there is no public record of this stuff, (but there should be – read this blog), there is a margin of error of +/- 1 show.  (And if anyone out there knows that I’m wrong – please correct me.)
  • I also eliminated any theaters that have only had 1 show in the theater the entire 10 year period (or close to it).  For ex., The Majestic and its masked man.
  • The ten year span of time is give or take a few months, depending on when a production began its run.


  • This calculation is only based on the number of commercial productions that have played these houses since 2000.

So with all that in mind, here we go:


Broadway Theater # of Shows # Recouped Recoupment %
Al Hirschfeld Theatre
11 3 27.27%
Ambassador Theatre n/a n/a n/a
August Wilson Theatre 8 1 12.50%
Belasco Theatre 9 2 22.22%
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre 17 8 47.06%
Booth Theatre 13 2 15.38%
Broadhurst Theatre 15 4 26.67%
Broadway Theatre 5 2 40.00%
Brooks Atkinson Theatre 13 3 23.08%
Circle in the Square Theatre 10 2 20.00%
Cort Theatre 16 2 12.50%
Ethel Barrymore Theatre 12 2 16.67%
Eugene O’Neill Theatre 11 4 36.36%
Foxwoods Theatre 7 0 0.00%
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre 17 5 29.41%
George Gershwin Theatre n/a n/a n/a
Helen Hayes Theatre 7 1 14.29%
Imperial Theatre 6 3 50.00%
John Golden Theatre 8 4 50.00%
Longacre Theatre 12 2 16.67%
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre 2 0 0.00%
Lyceum Theatre 13 1 7.69%
Majestic Theatre n/a n/a n/a
Marquis Theatre 9 3 33.33%
Minskoff Theatre 3 0 0.00%
Music Box Theatre 14 2 14.29%
Nederlander Theatre 4 1 25.00%
Neil Simon Theatre 3 1 33.33%
New Amsterdam Theatre 2 2 100.00%
Palace Theatre 5 2 40.00%
Richard Rodgers Theatre 8 3 37.50%
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre n/a n/a n/a
Shubert Theatre 5 3 60.00%
Stephen Sondheim Theatre n/a n/a n/a
St. James Theatre 6 1 16.67%
Studio 54 n/a n/a n/a
Vivian Beaumont Theatre n/a n/a n/a
Walter Kerr Theatre 10 3 30.00%
Winter Garden Theatre 1 1 100.00%


Now what does all this mean?  And what did I learn from all the clicking on IBDB I did and searching the web for recoupment records?

First, I learned not to take a certain type of over-the-counter medication too close to bedtime, otherwise it’ll be 2:16 AM before you know it and you’ll still be working on a blog and wondering what you’re going to do when you’re done, and second . . .

The location of your theater will always matter . . . BUT, it doesn’t even come close to mattering as much as the content inside that theater.  No one thought anyone would travel below 42nd St to see a show, and then Rent happened.  Everyone thinks (including me, as evident by the prologue to this blog) that traveling East of 7th is like traveling across the river Styx . . . but you put the right play with the right star in that jewel box known as The Cort and you got yourself a hit.

So take these stats with a grain of salt (although do pay special attention to the theaters that don’t have much turnover . . . like The Winter Garden) and remember, statistics can and should serve as a rudder when guiding an artistic enterprise . . . but the content steers the ship.

Now . . .  since my eyes are still glued open . . .  I wonder if there is a correlation to the length of a show’s run and the number of wigs used in that show by red-headed chorus girls from Alabama . . .



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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.