“Rock of Ages” Concludes Its Run

A Runaway Hit with an 80s Jukebox Score

Rock of Ages Broadway Musical celebrates RocktoberfestOn March 17, 2009, a show called Rock of Ages opened at the Helen Hayes Theatre on Broadway, having transferred from its Off-Broadway run at New World Stages, which followed its Los Angeles premiere in 2005 at a club on Hollywood Boulevard. This jukebox musical featured a book by Chris D’Arienzo along with a rocking score of 80s hits. Unlike other jukebox musicals that focus on one artist (The Four Seasons, Carole King, Abba, Queen, the list goes on), this musical decided to embrace an entire decade (the 80s) and the lifestyle that went with it: head-banging punk style, giant hopes and dreams, and a timeless love story. Though it was certainly not a surefire success, the show defied expectations and managed to run for almost six years and well over 2000 performances. In this time, it managed to gross over $125 million, well exceeding its capitalization and earning a huge amount of profit. Furthermore, a high budget film adaptation starring Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Alec Baldwin was released in 2012. Nevertheless, the show has finally wore out its welcome, as it has announced it will close on January 18, 2015.

Now Second Stage Can Purchase the Helen Hayes

Several Off-Broadway theatre companies have immortalized their presence in New York City while substantiating a higher profit margin by purchasing and producing in one or more Broadway venues (such as Roundabout and Manhattan Theater Club). Second Stage Theatre, which has held a prominent place in the Off-Broadway scene for many years from its central location at West 43rd Street and 8th Avenue, announced in 2008 that it planned to purchase the Helen Hayes Theatre, a desire Broadway venue due to its size, atmosphere, and location. Because Rock of Ages held on for so much longer than expected, this transaction was unable to take place. However, now that Rock of Ages is finally leaving town, Second Stage will be able to proceed with its plan. This will hopefully allow the company to thrive and contribute to the type of fare that manages to bridge the commercial with the quality-driven, an approach that not-for-profit theatre companies can more easily take than can commercial producers.

The Global Brand of “Rock of Ages” Will ContinueRock of Ages Broadway Show

Though the Broadway show will close, it has delighted countless audience members and has opened productions all over the world, many of which are still running. Versions of the show are still in operation in Mexico City, Las Vegas, and also on the Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway. The show had its Asian English language premiere in Manila, the Philippines, where it presented the show in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The musical also played in Australia (Melbourne and Brisbane), as well as Toronto from 2010-11. In addition, two different U.S. National tours played, one in 2010-11, and a second tour (non-Equity) from 2011-14. This of course is in addition to the feature film, which was not a financial success; its budget was $75 million, but it only brought in $59.4 million in box office grosses. Still, with digital streaming, the movie will continue to bring in revenue, and the global brand of Rock of Ages will live on, long after the Broadway show closes.

Rock of Ages Movie Fails to Rock the Box Office – Barely Moves The Needle on the Broadway Show

The film version of the highly successful Broadway musical Rock of Ages opened this past weekend to disappointing box office sales and tepid reviews. Featuring a star-filled cast and a slew of beloved ’80s hair-band hits like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”, Rock of Ages seemed poised to do well, but when all was said and done, the hard-rocking movie only placed #3 at the box office, bringing in less than $15 million in ticket sales.

The exact reason for Rock of Ages‘ lackluster performance is hard to pinpoint. Some of the reviews felt the Rock of Ages movie failed to capture the silly fun and hard rock spirit of the Broadway show version (and of course the film couldn’t possibly duplicate the concert-like feel of a live show). The movie advertisements, which emphasize the more famous cast members (Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, etc.), are also rather misleading, since the main characters are actually played by relative unknowns. Some moviegoers may have also simply thought that the movie looked a bit too cheesy for their tastes (Alec Baldwin in a ratty-looking long wig can’t be helping matters on that front).

Perhaps the real question is whether or not ’80s music has as much mass appeal anymore, particularly to the largest movie-going demographic, young men. It’s more likely that their parents are the ones who hold a strong affection for ’80s hair metal, which would explain why Rock of Ages is a bigger success on Broadway (where middle-aged ticket buyers rule) than in movie theaters (which is more the domain of young people).