Disney Announces Unprecedented Ticket Exchange Policy

Ticketholders for “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” Can Swap Dates

The Lion King Broadway Musical, logoTwo of Disney’s most popular animated films have become two of their most exciting stage musicals. For the Broadway productions of both Aladdin and The Lion King, Disney Theatrical Productions has announced that ticketholders can exchange their tickets for another performance time, up until 2 hours before curtain. There will be a $12 ticket exchange fee for each change transaction, excepting cases in which the change happens less than 24 hours after the purchase was made. Also, the exchange must happen in the same way that the purchase was originally transacted: either at the box office, the Disney on Broadway hotline, or online via Ticketmaster. Though this announcement applies to both Aladdin and The Lion King, theatregoers must stick with the production they originally chose; there is no exchange allowed between tickets for the two shows. Still, this flexibility is sure to please audience members for both shows alike, thereby perhaps encouraging seeing both to take advantage of the scheme.

An Unprecedented Move, So Why Now?

Generally, purchasing tickets to a Broadway show is seen as a non-refundable commitment, requiring all other scheduling to Aladdin on Broadwayaccommodate the unchanging requirements of the time as originally selected. Therefore, this decision by Disney completely changes the nature of the Broadway ticket-buying marketplace. It’s possible that if this proves to be a successful incentive for choosing these shows over other offerings, that other producers may follow suit. The disincentive for this flexibility is that producers and managers need to keep careful track of each performance, understanding when they need to discount, offer complimentary tickets, or implement dynamic pricing to suit the availability of each performance. Disney has the unusual flexibility to engage this policy because both shows are such consistent hits, so even if theatregoers change their minds last minute, Disney is confident they can fill up those seats either at the TDF booth, box office, or online, still continuing with a steady stream of profits. And furthermore, Disney may benefit quite strongly from this $12 change fee, which may seem slight at the time of change, but could definitely add up to another significant revenue stream for the organization.

“The Lion King” and “Aladdin”

The Lion King is undoubtedly one of Broadway’s biggest hits, having run at the Minskoff Theatre at top box office grosses since it began performances on October 15, 1997. It has now played for over 7000 performances, generally with weekly grosses between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. With music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, the production was directed by Julie Taymor and choreographed by Garth Fagan, famously utilizing giant puppets to simulate the animals of the kingdom with human dancers inside them. Aladdin is a much newer production, having only begun previews on February 26, 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Still, it quickly rose to the top of the box office charts, consistently earning grosses between $1.2 million and $1.6 million. Perhaps Disney is attempting to get Aladdin up to the league of The Lion King, incentivizing ticketbuyers by grouping the two shows together with this flexible policy. In any case, the brand power from the animated films of both of these shows will certainly live on.

“The Real Thing” Opens on Broadway

A Stoppard Play with an All-Star Cast

the-real-thing-pink-and-blackOn October 30, 2014, The Real Thing opened at the American Airlines Theatre, one of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s three Broadway venues. The play, a classic by Tom Stoppard (Arcadia, Rock n Roll, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) originally produced in 1982, was directed by Sam Gold, a relative newcomer who has taken New York theatre by storm with such productions as The Realistic Joneses, Seminar, and many Off-Broadway hits. With such a creative team behind it, the production was able to a number of Hollywood stars. Two are making their Broadway debuts: Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, White House Down) and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Big Fish, Star Wars). Furthermore, the show stars Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City, Broadway productions including Wit, Rabbit Hole, Angels in America) as well as Josh Hamilton (Dead Accounts, The Coast of Utopia, Proof). With all of these powerhouse names behind it, the show was destined to be a critical hit. However, something the perfect ingredients do not make the perfect stew, and in this case, the result was sadly underwhelming.

Mixed Reviews from Critics

The most influential of New York theatre critics, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, gave The Real Thing a review that was all but playwright Tom Stoppard event gray whitedisdainful. He called the revival “tinny,” and claimed that the production lacked any real evidence of chemistry between the performers, or any sort of deep feelings in general. The beauty of Stoppard’s work often lies in the fact that his words may be highly complex and intellectual, but there is a deep humanity bubbling beneath the surface. Brantley’s view is that this production (due to a mixture of casting and directing) lacked that crucial underlayer. Other reviewers were less critical, falling prey to the combination of writing and fame onstage that can persuade the audience they are enjoying a well-done production. Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, for example, thought the revival was thoroughly excellent, and enjoyed the interspersed tunes that Sam Gold opted to include between scenes, often hummed along by the actors. Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly also praised the production, perhaps delighted merely to see his Hollywood favorites onstage. He claimed Gyllenhaal’s performance oozed poise and sophistication, which may be true, but the argument could also be made that the softness beneath was missing. David Rooney from the Hollywood Reporter was more on the fence, correctly praising Ewan McGregor’s Broadway debut for the professional excellence of his performance, but also calling Gold’s direction “hollow.”

Struggling at the Box Office

It is always interesting to follow how the combination of recognizable playwright, famous actors, and critical response has on the box office. In this case, audiences were not moved by the result, certainly not enough to make this show stand out financially. The show has never reached more than 77.56% of its gross potential in any given week, and the weekly numbers have been squarely in the $400,000 range for each week. With stars such as McGregor, Gyllenhaal, and Nixon onstage, this is almost an insult. And for the true theatre aficionados, the fact that a Stoppard play would be given this treatment is just a shame. However, given that the revival is produced by Roundabout, a not-for-profit theatre institution with an endowment and a subscriber base to keep it afloat, the show will likely be able to play out its intended limited run. The show is scheduled to close on January 4, 2015.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 11/23/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

New Show: “Honeymoon in Vegas”

On November 18, 2014, Honeymoon in Vegas began previews at the Nederlander Theatre. With music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Bridges of Madison County), a book by Andrew Bergman, and based off the motion picture of the same name, this musical is directed by Gary Griffin and choreographed by Denis Jones. The musical stars Tony Danza, Rob McClure, Brynn O’Malley, and Matthew Saldivar. In its first week of previews, it played seven performances and brought in a preliminary weekly gross of $366,136. This is really not that spectacular, given that the show has the potential of bringing in $983,218, so that represented only 37.24% of the show’s gross potential. With a top ticket price of $233.00, the average paid admission was $69.24, demonstrating a heavy amount of discounting. It is a shame that a maestro composer such as Jason Robert Brown has time and again resorted to working on movie to musical adaptations, which are meant to be commercial but don’t even succeed in that regard.

An Overall Slow Week for Broadway

In the week ending November 23, 2014, the entire Broadway community saw an overall increase in gross sales of $261,421. That is barely a move at all, but on an individual sow basis, all but 13 saw a decrease in sales. Other than Honeymoon in Vegas, which began previews and thus increased from zero, the highest increase was seen by The Lion King, which brought in $1,711,467, representing an increase of $183,478 from the week prior. Increases were also seen by The River, Cabaret, Wicked, Cinderella, and Aladdin. Still, these increases were slight in comparison with their potential grosses. The following week, which included the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, ended up being much stronger. However, this week was a slow gearing up for the impending holidays, which are sure to make a difference in the otherwise slow winter season. As tourists flock to New York, these numbers will be sure to increase.

 

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending November 23, 2014:

Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis- w/e 11-23-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $745,933 6,356 99.06% $117.36
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $775,336 6,939 95.63% $111.74
ALADDIN $1,372,657 13,737 99.66% $99.92
BEAUTIFUL $1,279,198 7,974 97.15% $160.42
CABARET $816,760 6,701 93.80% $121.89
CHICAGO $419,363 5,339 61.79% $78.55
CINDERELLA $680,334 8,934 63.78% $76.15
DISGRACED $433,598 5,212 70.97% $83.19
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $548,527 5,590 79.30% $98.13
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $366,136 5,288 65.29% $69.24
IF/THEN $502,191 7,168 68.34% $70.06
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,342,409 8,417 98.42% $159.49
JERSEY BOYS $727,159 7,132 72.60% $101.96
KINKY BOOTS $1,100,608 10,077 88.46% $109.22
LES MISÉRABLES $617,818 7,960 70.62% $77.62
LOVE LETTERS $411,765 4,764 63.72% $86.43
MAMMA MIA! $491,950 6,236 66.85% $78.89
MATILDA $764,003 8,418 73.48% $90.76
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $981,245 10,303 85.46% $95.24
ON THE TOWN $795,604 9,912 66.12% $80.27
ONCE $425,226 5,383 63.54% $78.99
PIPPIN $367,437 4,997 63.09% $73.53
ROCK OF AGES $296,522 3,533 75.75% $83.93
SIDE SHOW $419,203 7,397 70.96% $56.67
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,579,606 8,742 102.51% $180.69
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $146,741 3,439 66.13% $42.67
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $903,389 7,980 97.99% $113.21
THE ELEPHANT MAN $938,509 6,211 100.31% $151.10
THE LAST SHIP $497,208 7,222 66.92% $68.85
THE LION KING $1,711,467 13,503 99.29% $126.75
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $676,699 8,266 64.38% $81.87
THE REAL THING $475,879 5,441 91.91% $87.46
THE RIVER $882,153 5,621 100.95% $156.94
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $287,243 4,533 53.40% $63.37
WICKED $1,452,509 12,670 87.55% $114.64
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $467,067 5,057 58.91% $92.36
Totals: $26,699,450 262,452 79.00% $98.32

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014 nytix.com

“The Country House” Closes on Broadway

A Limited, but Extended, Run

country houseOn September 9, 2014, The Country House began previews at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway venue, the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The show had its official opening on October 2, 2014. Yesterday, November 23, 2014, the show played its final performance of the run. Though the show opened to mixed reviews and consistently brought in less than remarkable results at the box office, it extended from its originally announced closing date of November 9, 2014. If this were a normal commercial Broadway production mounted by independent commercial producers, then the show would have been likely to close early, rather than to extend. However, as MTC has a unique advantage by being a not-for-profit theatre institution with the capacity to produce on Broadway, it is able to rely on its endowment as well as its base of subscribers to sell a certain number of tickets, as well as to float through financial losses. The only other organization that rivals MTC in this advantage is the Roundabout Theatre Company, which has three venues on Broadway: the American Airlines Theatre, Studio 54, and the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

Blythe Danner as Anna Patterson

In The Country House, Blythe Danner stars as a woman named Anna Patterson, a glamorous actress who is frustrated by the tensions ofcountry house a play she is in at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in rural Massachusetts. The play is written by Donald Margulies, an MTC regular whose past works have included Time Stands Still, Brooklyn Boy, and Sight Seen. The director was Daniel Sullivan, who has helmed such Broadway productions as The Snow Geese, Orphans, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Columnist, and The Merchant of Venice. Starring alongside Blythe Danner were Kate Jennings Grant (The Lyons), Eric Lange, David Rasche (To Be or Not To Be, Getting and Spending), Sarah Steele (Off-Broadway’s Russian Transport), and Daniel Sunjata (Macbeth, Cyrano de Bergerac). The play transferred to Broadway after a successful run at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse where its world premiere occurred on June 11, 2014. Almost the entire cast, including Danner, traveled with the show from LA to New York.

A Semi-Flop, But Good Enough

It is a sad state of the industry that a play that receives consistently mediocre reviews can still be produced on Broadway, simply due to the experience of the writer and director, as shepherded by an established theatre institution, as well as the simple name of one famous actor headlining the cast. In this case, Donald Margulies has had some great successes, but The Country House is not truly one of them. However, an organization like MTC would rather turn to a tried and true writer with an uninteresting new play, believing they can satisfy their subscriber base and continue to appear cutting edge. However, the reality is that it is the least innovative approach the organization can take, and they are faced with their own kind of internal bureaucracy. It appears that it is actually up to independent producers to blaze through the established norms to try out daring productions such as The River and One Man, Two Guvnors, which manage to fly on their own merits.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 11/16/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

A Low Week in the Broadway Fall Ebb and Flow

In the past few weeks, Broadway seems to be fluctuating between high weeks and low weeks. The week ending November 16, 2014 was one of the low weeks. Of the 35 shows presently running, only 7 of them saw an increase in ticket sales from the week before. The highest increase was seen by The Elephant Man, only because this was its first full week of eight performances. Of the other six shows that saw an increase, that increase was very slight: always under $100,000. Love Letters increased from $393,746 last week to $483,280 this week, which was only an increase of $89,534, and even then the show only brought in 61.89% of its gross capacity. Other increases were seen by Side Show (an increase of only $35,819, still only at 38.74% gross capacity), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (increased only by $11,242, and was already at over 90% gross potential), as well as On the Town, Once, and Cinderella, each of which only saw an increase of under $10,000. Otherwise, significant decreases were seen by shows including Wicked (decrease of $259,397) and The Lion King (decrease of $209,740).

High Grossing Plays

This fall season is shaping up to have a few solid box office contenders in terms of straight plays. The biggest non-tuner winner appears to be It’s Only a Play, which last week brought in $1,370,168 and has consistently been over the million dollar mark in every full performance week since it began its run. However, that show is less likely to score big in the Tony Awards, as its box office success is due mostly to the show’s stars including Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Rupert Grint. The Elephant Man, starring Bradley Cooper, is shaping up to be another big box office winner, having earned $966,896 last week in its first full performance week. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time continued its winning streak last week with a gross of $907,142, as audiences are drawn to this spectacular drama transferred from London. Finally, Jez Butterworth’s The River is a top earner with its headliner Hugh Jackman, having earned $723,882 this past week, and having earned close to a million dollars last week. Not only is Jackman generally understood to be box office gold, but Butterworth has quickly guilt a reputation as an unmissable playwright ever since his success with Jerusalem, and this box office success is all the more notable due to the tiny size of the Circle in the Square Theatre.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending November 16, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 11-16-14

 

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $852,393 6,416 100.00% $132.85
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $788,831 6,885 94.89% $114.57
ALADDIN $1,328,493 13,237 96.03% $100.36
BEAUTIFUL $1,318,454 8,222 100.17% $160.36
CABARET $686,271 6,106 85.47% $112.39
CHICAGO $413,434 5,372 62.18% $76.96
CINDERELLA $631,822 8,518 60.81% $74.17
DISGRACED $471,373 5,569 75.83% $84.64
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $607,949 6,308 89.49% $96.38
IF/THEN $466,852 6,975 66.50% $66.93
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,370,168 8,479 99.15% $161.60
JERSEY BOYS $727,348 6,994 71.19% $104.00
KINKY BOOTS $1,142,851 10,114 88.78% $113.00
LES MISÉRABLES $603,883 7,315 64.90% $82.55
LOVE LETTERS $483,280 5,603 74.95% $86.25
MAMMA MIA! $483,950 6,181 66.26% $78.30
MATILDA $744,214 8,578 74.88% $86.76
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $997,824 10,157 84.25% $98.24
ON THE TOWN $843,648 10,345 69.00% $81.55
ONCE $462,158 5,652 66.71% $81.77
PIPPIN $397,603 5,210 65.78% $76.32
ROCK OF AGES $323,042 3,718 79.72% $86.89
SIDE SHOW $449,747 8,957 85.93% $50.21
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,594,690 8,751 102.61% $182.23
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $187,209 3,641 70.02% $51.42
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $907,142 7,988 98.08% $113.56
THE ELEPHANT MAN $966,896 6,278 101.39% $154.01
THE LAST SHIP $536,449 6,648 61.60% $80.69
THE LION KING $1,527,989 13,319 97.93% $114.72
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $715,131 8,450 65.81% $84.63
THE REAL THING $455,145 5,512 93.11% $82.57
THE RIVER $723,882 5,695 102.28% $127.11
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $322,033 4,772 56.22% $67.48
WICKED $1,361,772 12,283 84.87% $110.87
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $544,105 5,708 66.50% $95.32
Totals: $26,438,028 259,956 80.67% $99.19

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014 nytix.com

“The Elephant Man” Begins Previews

Bradley Cooper As a Disfigured Protagonist

bradley cooper elephant manOn November 7, 2014, The Elephant Man began previews at the Booth Theatre. It will have its official opening night on December 7, 2014. Set in Victorian England, The Elephant Man was originally written in 1977 by Bernard Pomerance, and the original Broadway production was in 1979. At that time, it won three Tony Awards, those for Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Jack Hofsiss), and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Carole Shelley). It also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, and it was also selected for inclusion in The Burns Mantle Theater Yearbook as one of the Best Plays of 1978-1979. In 2002, a Broadway revival starring Billy Crudup was nominated for two acting Tony Awards but won neither. This production stars Bradley Cooper as the eponymous Elephant Man (whose name is actually John Merrick), and it is directed by 6-time Tony nominee Scott Ellis. Cooper stars alongside Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendal and Alessandro Nivola as Frederick Treves.

Cooper’s Star Attraction

Bradley Cooper first played the role of John Merrick in a 2012 production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. This is his second timeelephant man on Broadway, having also played the roles of Pip and Theo in a 2006 production of Three Days of Rain. Also, at the 2008 Williamstown Theatre Festival, he played the role of Jake in The Understudy. However, he is much better known for his performances on the screen. He has starred in such films as American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook (receiving Academy Award nominations for them both), The Place Beyond the Pines, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hangover trilogy, and many more titles. Bradley Cooper is a beloved actor, as seen by the notable box office success of The Elephant Man thus far. In its first week of four performances, it has already grossed $520,087, which represents 113.36% of its gross potential. Furthermore, with a top ticket price of $298.00, it had an average paid ticket admission of $163.45, which represents little to no discounting. Of the 3,096 total seats across those four performances, it sold a miraculous 3,182 of them (accounted for by the premium ticket sales).

The Story of the Elephant Man

It is clearly the star attraction of Bradley Cooper, rather than the flashy subject matter, that has drawn such numbers to the box office. However, though it may not be superficially engaging, the storyline of the play is also excellent. It is based on the real life story of Joseph Merrick, a 19th century British man who suffered from extreme bodily deformity. He became a star of the freak show circuit, until a doctor takes him under his wing to study. He ends up being amazed by Merrick’s intellect, faith, and longing for love and loyalty. A romantic subplot emerges when Dr. Treves introduces Merrick to the beautiful Mrs. Kendal, who also sees his truly touching nature. However, Mrs. Kendal is not single, and there is a complex underlayer to their friendship, as she wants to protect him from the corruption of the real world. The Elephant Man is therefore a love story, but it is also the story of a man cut apart from the universe yet who still manages to maintain a virulent humanity. Interestingly, The Elephant Man is always performed without extravagant special effects stage makeup, so that Bradley Cooper displays the deformity through physicality alone.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 11/09/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

A Complete 180 From Last Week

Whereas the previous week was a particularly low one for the Broadway box office, the week ending November 9, 2014 was a complete turnaround. Of the 35 shows presently running on Broadway, only three saw a decrease in sales from the week before: The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia! (which are both long-running musicals for which this slight decrease isn’t particularly significant), and The Country House (a play struggling to stay afloat). Otherwise, the week was a serious improvement for most shows. In terms of increase from this week as compared to last week, the top earner was Jez Butterworth’s The River starring Hugh Jackman, which grossed $568,906 more this week than the week before (where it had only played its first partial week of 3 performances). In its first full week of eight performances, The River grossed $917,008, representing 104.89% of its gross potential, and selling 102.7% of its seats across the week. The top grossing shows this past week were The Lion King at $1,737,729, The Book of Mormon at $1,638,827, Wicked at $1,621,169, Aladdin at $1,410,648, and It’s Only a Play at $1,375,174 – all of which showed a substantial increase from the week before.

New Show: “The Elephant Man”

The Elephant Man began previews on November 7, 2014, with just 4 performances in its first week. It has exited with a bang, having grossed $520,087 across four performances, which represents 113.36% of its gross capacity. With a top ticket price of $298.00, the average paid ticket was the remarkable $163.45. Of the total 3,096 seats, there were somehow 3,182 of them sold. This show stars Bradley Cooper, a major Hollywood favorite who is well-known for his roles in such films as Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Hangover Trilogy. He was nominated for Academy Awards for both Silver Linings Playbook (Best Actor) and American Hustle (Best Supporting Actor). In The Elephant Man, he plays a disfigured man in Britain who uses purely his own physicality, rather than makeup or special effects, to convey the disability. This is his second time on Broadway; his first was the role of Pip and Theo in 2006’s Three Days of Rain.

 

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending November 9, 2014:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-11-09-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $857,375 6,416 100.00% $133.63
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $815,750 6,801 93.73% $119.95
ALADDIN $1,410,648 13,171 95.55% $107.10
BEAUTIFUL $1,330,829 8,214 100.07% $162.02
CABARET $741,877 6,379 89.29% $116.30
CHICAGO $479,182 5,926 68.59% $80.86
CINDERELLA $629,743 8,408 60.02% $74.90
DISGRACED $512,646 6,500 88.51% $78.87
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $624,148 6,370 90.37% $97.98
IF/THEN $569,810 7,556 72.04% $75.41
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,375,174 8,544 99.91% $160.95
JERSEY BOYS $826,987 7,909 80.51% $104.56
KINKY BOOTS $1,147,857 9,719 85.31% $118.10
LES MISÉRABLES $683,328 8,168 72.46% $83.66
LOVE LETTERS $393,746 5,086 59.53% $77.42
MAMMA MIA! $586,427 7,549 80.93% $77.68
MATILDA $892,409 9,892 86.35% $90.22
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,025,917 10,480 86.93% $97.89
ON THE TOWN $834,113 10,110 67.44% $82.50
ONCE $459,801 5,491 64.81% $83.74
PIPPIN $449,207 5,524 69.75% $81.32
ROCK OF AGES $323,107 3,778 81.00% $85.52
SIDE SHOW $413,928 7,135 78.23% $58.01
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,638,827 8,752 102.63% $187.25
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $209,004 3,722 71.58% $56.15
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $895,900 7,922 97.27% $113.09
THE ELEPHANT MAN $520,087 3,182 102.78% $163.45
THE LAST SHIP $543,860 7,145 66.21% $76.12
THE LION KING $1,737,729 13,502 99.28% $128.70
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $720,968 8,710 67.83% $82.77
THE REAL THING $490,862 5,823 98.36% $84.30
THE RIVER $917,008 5,716 102.66% $160.43
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $349,111 4,805 56.61% $72.66
WICKED $1,621,169 13,524 93.45% $119.87
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $562,949 6,082 70.85% $92.56
Totals: $27,591,478 264,011 82.88% $102.46

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014 nytix.com

Shuberts Plan To Shutter BroadwayOffers.com By Thanksgiving 2014

Shubert Officially Replacing BroadwayOffers.com with TelechargeOffers.com

Shubert organization logo2014 has been a year fraught with poor decisions by the Shubert Organization when it comes to Broadway initiatives.  First, they launched the malfunctioning website TelechargeOffers.com to offer discount tickets to their telecharge.com ticket-buying audience. Now, the Shuberts are finishing the deed, announcing that they will be officially shutting down their original, much more functional discount ticketing site, BroadwayOffers.com, by Thanksgiving 2014. The original website broadwayoffers.com has been around since July 2001, and the Shuberts have already purchased the domain name space and brand up until July 2021. TelechargeOffers.com is the much newer, much buggier and significantly less popular site than its older sibling and is the website that is supposed to take over. It has been a bad start for TelechargeOffers.com, with less than 40% of users migrating to it. No stranger to monopolies, the Shuberts figured out that the way to increase the new site’s popularity and acceptance was to destroy its competition, and thus delete the original BroadwayOffers.com website completely. It seems that the Shubert’s often make choices that suit them the best, but cause chaos and confusion in the rest of the market.

The Shuberts Rhetoric Is To Play Nice – But Their Actions Indicate Otherwise

The Shuberts development choices in this matter effectively give users fewer choices, more problems, and a more complex process to buy Broadway tickets: the very opposite of what the Shuberts’ mission statement actually should be. It is the perfect example of an arrogant monopoly at work in the 21st century; Carlos Slim would be so proud.
Time after time, the Shuberts talk of slimming down the process of buying Broadway tickets, making it a simpler solution, improving the customer experience, improving the mobile buying experience and working with the industry to develop a better ticket buying model. The reality is that this is just rhetoric and the Shuberts are not only horrendously slow to adopt new ideas, but never make a move unless its clear that it will not affect their virtual monopoly on Broadway. It could be that that the strategist and the implementer at the Shubert Organization do not talk to one another, or they have an intermediary that puts the kibosh on good work. But the reality is, the Shubert Organization specializes in politics and this is just another example of its inner workings resulting in inaction.

The Shortcomings of TelechargeOffers.com

broadway offersThe Shuberts want to force all discount ticket sales through the beleaguered site TelechargeOffers.com, but the new website suffers from usability andtelecharge offers gray performance problems. One of its biggest failures is that It demands that users install the dreaded Microsoft Silverlight product that brings performance and security issues to users’ PCs. Users must install this software product just to be able to use the new website, which means that mobile users and non-PC users lose a great deal of functionality. Microsoft Silverlight is used to render the seating map, but it is not a mainstream product and thus requires most users to download an otherwise superfluous piece of software merely to see a graphic that many other much more common programs could easily offer. Furthermore, TelechargeOffers.com uses an ancient and complicated CAPTCHA system, which requires users to input annoying digits to proceed and prove they are not a robot or mass user ticket broker. In general, TelechargeOffers.com has serious issues with speed, functionality, and reliability, and thus the shutting of BroadwayOffers.com is a shame, if not a travesty.

Why Did The Shuberts Take This Negative Approach?Seating Chart for The Phantom of the Opera Tickets at the Majestic Theatre

The primary reason the Shuberts decided on this path forward is because they are trying to increase sales of full price Broadway tickets. For instance, when a discount code doesn’t work for a particular day, they are effectively forcing all their clients to see the alternative tickets available in the hope that they will buy tickets that are available. They also think they can do lots of Broadway ticket upsells. This idea wouldn’t be so bad if the new website wasn’t a complete disaster, but as it has so many technical and usability issues, the plan is both unfair and unwise. The Shuberts have had ample time to fix problems that were identified back in our July 4 2014 blog posting, which they have chosen to ignore. It is not quite clear who at the Shuberts have dropped the ball on this development, but David Andrews, Senior Vice President of Shubert Ticketing, Peter Entin, Vice President of Theatre Operations and Charles Flateman, Vice President of Marketing have failed in their duty to the Broadway industry.

The Shuberts Continue Their Strategy of Poor Consumer Experience

Charles Flateman at Shubert

Charles Flateman, the VP of Marketing for Shubert Ticketing (formerly of Gray Line New York Sightseeing Tours and co-founder of Broadway Inbound), true to his past form, had no comment for this story and refused interview requests, citing the Shuberts’ (non-existent) policy of not speaking to the press unless through a press release. Somewhat confused by the request, Mr Flateman erroneously referred all questions to Charlotte St. Martin, the Executive Director of The Broadway League.

“The Last Ship” Opens on Broadway

Sting’s First Broadway Effort

the last shipOn October 26, 2014, The Last Ship opened at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre. It had been running in previews since September 29, 2014. With music and lyrics by 16-time Grammy Award winner Sting, the musical has a book by John Logan (Red, I’ll Eat You Last) and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then). Furthermore, the show is directed by Joe Mantello (Casa Valentina, Other Desert Cities) and choreographed by Steven Hoggett (Once, Rocky). The show tells the story of the citizens of an English seafaring town whose shipping business is on its last legs. The protagonist, a man named Gideon Fletcher, left home as a young man to seek greater adventures, but returns to find that his father’s business is failing and his one true love has pledged herself to another. The denizens come together in a grand collaborative effort to build one last ship, representing the dream that they have shared and their passion to keep it alive despite the hardships they are facing. Sting crafted this musical following his own experience growing up in Newcastle, and it shares a name with his eleventh album, The Last Ship, which came out in September 2013. This is the first time Sting has written a show for the stage.

The Reviews Are In

The reviews are in, and critics are mixed in their appreciation of the show. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times deemed it the last shipambitious and earnest, but couldn’t help but criticize it for being unfocused. There are two conflicting storylines – the romantic subplot and the main story of the seafaring town’s struggle – and they never come together in a coherent or satisfying way. He lauded the score for being one of the best composed by a Broadway outsider (that is, a singer-songwriter or otherwise established musician trying his or her hand on Broadway), which is a kind of underwhelming compliment. And though he appreciated the performances of the talented actors, he acknowledged the show is disadvantaged by its somber themes in comparison to the peppier shows competing for ticketbuyers’ attention. David Cote of Time Out New York, on the other hand, was more positive in his review. He called the show fervent and glorious, and yet he still admitted the book was lacking in comparison to the score. Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press appreciated the testosterone level of the show, and was enervated by the score and the story both. David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter praised the show for returning to the concept of the original Broadway musical, with true soul in its roots, although he was still on the fence about the show’s overall success.

Struggling at the Box Office

Though more than a week has passed since these reviews came out, theatregoers do not seem to be encouraged to purchase tickets due to their increased awareness of the show’s existence. In the week ending November 2, 2014, the show grossed $495,069, which was actually a decrease of $51,845 from the week before and the show’s lowest weekly gross to date. This represents only 39.82% of the show’s gross potential, with an average paid ticket price of $78.17. Perhaps the show needs to discount more, but that will only take it so far. With mixed reviews, less than upbeat themes, and a highly competitive Broadway season full of Hollywood stars and compelling musical brands, The Last Ship may have a hard time staying afloat for very much longer.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 11/02/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

New Shows This Week: “The River” and “Side Show”

In the week ending November 2, 2014, two new shows began previews. First, on October 28, 2014, Side Show began performances at the St. James Theatre. Playing six performances across this first week of recorded box office figures, Side Show grossed the unremarkable amount of $349,563, which represents only 39.67% of its gross potential. With the maximum numbers of seats to fill being 7,818, ticketbuyers only ended up filling 5,696 of them. This goes to show that Side Show has been offering heavy discounts, as the average paid ticket was only $61.37, with a top ticket price of $197.00. On the other hand, The River began performances with an extraordinary performance out of the gates. In its first week, it played only three performances, and yet it grossed $348,102, which represents 103.5% of the show’s gross potential. With a top ticket price of $275.00, the show’s average paid ticket price was $161.01, which implies basically no discounting. Of the 2,088 seats to sell across these three performances, The River sold 2,162 of them, which seems physically impossible – and yet if anyone can achieve the impossible, it’s the team of Jez Butterworth and Hugh Jackman.

An Overall Slow Week for Broadway

This past week, the overall Broadway industry saw a decline in overall weekly gross of $2,393,852, earning a total of $23,464,674. This represents an average of $690,137 across all 34 shows presently running. This is a decrease of 10.20% from the week before. Of the 34 shows, 31 of them saw a decrease in weekly gross from the week before, whereas the only three that saw an increase were Disgraced, The River, and Side Show. Of course, it must be noted that the latter two increased from $0 the week before, as they opened this past week, so they don’t really count. And Disgraced, which only increased by $45,861 from the week before, is the anomaly having increased its gross each of the six weeks in which it has been running. Still, at its peak this past week, it only reached 52.47% of its gross potential.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending November 2, 2014:

Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-11-02-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $850,150 6,416 100.00% $132.50
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $757,811 7,061 97.31% $107.32
ALADDIN $1,280,885 13,528 98.14% $94.68
BEAUTIFUL $1,033,975 7,844 95.57% $131.82
CABARET $611,122 5,474 76.62% $111.64
CHICAGO $444,182 5,493 63.58% $80.86
CINDERELLA $501,306 6,797 48.52% $73.75
DISGRACED $408,008 5,538 75.41% $73.67
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $498,001 5,413 76.79% $92.00
IF/THEN $404,308 7,361 70.18% $54.93
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,338,059 8,468 99.02% $158.01
JERSEY BOYS $675,647 6,782 69.04% $99.62
KINKY BOOTS $1,100,572 9,904 86.94% $111.12
LES MISÉRABLES $608,589 7,224 64.09% $84.25
LOVE LETTERS $258,377 3,961 46.36% $65.23
MAMMA MIA! $602,891 7,247 77.69% $83.19
MATILDA $760,087 9,441 82.41% $80.51
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $855,012 8,993 74.59% $95.08
ON THE TOWN $675,371 8,749 58.36% $77.19
ONCE $341,135 4,836 57.08% $70.54
PIPPIN $377,838 5,026 63.46% $75.18
ROCK OF AGES $278,848 3,476 74.53% $80.22
SIDE SHOW $349,563 5,696 72.86% $61.37
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,535,238 8,751 102.61% $175.44
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $217,819 3,565 68.56% $61.10
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $862,004 7,911 97.14% $108.96
THE LAST SHIP $495,069 6,333 58.68% $78.17
THE LION KING $1,700,190 13,395 98.49% $126.93
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $724,322 8,848 68.91% $81.86
THE REAL THING $433,827 5,765 97.38% $75.25
THE RIVER $348,102 2,162 103.54% $161.01
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $294,214 4,058 47.81% $72.50
WICKED $1,329,813 12,097 83.59% $109.93
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $512,339 5,656 65.89% $90.58
Totals: $23,464,671 239,269 77.09% $95.19

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014 nytix.com