Monday, April 30, 2007
Broadway Ticket Buyers, where does the money go?
Ever wonder where the money goes from a ticket for a Broadway show in New York City. It's not pure profit. From salaries to dancing shoes, Broadway shows have quite an overhead. The running cost of an average Broadway show ranges from about $300,000 to $600,000 a week.
Excluding premium seats, most orchestra seats at any Broadway musical is about $100-$120. For arguments sake, let us just use the low end example of $100 for an orchestra seat. This is an estimate of what that ticket pays for:
$1.25 THEATER FACILITY FEE This fee goes toward the maintenance and upkeep of of the theater.
$11.20 ADVERTISING/MARKETING Those Times Square signs are a huge expense and all productions are charged a fee to be listed in the New York Times theater listings.
$5.30 SALARIES (CAST) A big budget Broadway musical can employ as many as 30-40 actors. All are members of Actors' Equity union and earn the Equity Broadway contract base pay (estimated to be over $1,400/week). Actors in major roles earn more, and stars like Nathan Lane can make more than $50,000 a week.
$6.90 SALARIES (CREW) Unionized stagehands are one of the bigger expenses of any show. Base pay for a crew chief is estimated to be $1,500 a week before benefits. A backstage crew of a big musical could employ more than 30 stagehands.
$2.00 SALARIES (MUSICIANS) The orchestra members, also unionized, receive a base pay estimated to be about $1,400 a week.
$1.40 SALARIES (OTHER) Press agents, another unionized group, receive a base pay estimated at almost $2,000 a week. Other expenses include ushers, box-office personnel and security.
$4.10 BOX-OFFICE COMMISSIONS Paid to group sales and theater party ticket brokers.
$4.50 THEATER UTILITIES AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES
$1.00 INSURANCE/ACCOUNTING All Broadway productions carry insurance as well as basic liability estimated to cost over $3,000 a week.
$6.70 THEATER RENT A Broadway theater can cost over $20,000 a week plus 5 to 6 percent of the show's gross profit.
$4.10 RENTALS Most shows rent their lighting and sound equipment.
$9.90 UNION BENEFITS/PAYROLL TAXES
$1.20 UPKEEP OF COSTUMES
$15.70 ROYALTIES Every member of the creative team (composer, director, set designer, costume designer, etc) receives royalties.
$24.75 RETURN OF CAPITAL TO PRODUCERS What it's all about on Broadway: making money. About a quarter of a $100 ticket goes back to the people who made the show possible. No, not the actors, or the director, or the writers: the investors.
Note that this breakdown by no means is representative of any single show and is only an approximation of what salaries and/or costs could be for a big budget broadway musical.
Keep in mind that a Broadway musical may require an investment of $6 to $14 million to get the show to opening night. Even when a show grosses over $1 million dollars a week, it still may take almost a year or longer to repay the investment and continually cover weekly operating costs before the investors see a profit. It would not be a false statement to guess that less than half of Broadway shows opening each year earn a profit.
By the way, the musical "The Phantom of the Opera" opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City in January 1988. As of spring 2007, the production has grossed almost $650,000,000 million dollars at this one theatre. Somewhere an investor is smiling.