Broadway show ‘Beetlejuice’ will be removed from the Winter Garden theatre in June 2020 to make room for Hugh Jackman and Scott Rudin’s ‘The Music Man’
On Monday, December 9th, 2019 it was reported that Beetlejuice will be evicted from the Winter Garden Theatre by the theatre landlord, The Shubert Organization. This came as a shock to fans since the show is going to close despite its rising ticket sales. The general reasoning is that evicting the Beetlejuice production will make room for the Broadway behemoth, Hugh Jackman, and prolific producer Scott Rudin for their upcoming Broadway revival of The Music Man, that is set to open in previews on September 9th, 2020.
Beetlejuice opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in previews on March 28, 2019 and had its red carpet premiere on April 25, 2019. The Broadway show is based on Tim Burton’s 1988 cult classic Beetlejuice, which starred Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder. Both critics and audiences loved the film, leading it to gross over $73 million at the box office and earn a bevy of award nominations, but settling for just the winner of the Academy Award for ‘Best Makeup’. The Broadway stage adaptation of Beetlejuice has amassed a similar cult following to the movie, largely due to the show’s popularity on the lip-syncing app TikTok and other social media platforms. While the critical response has been largely positive, some conservative audiences have complained that the show is too ‘flashy’ and ‘raunchy’. The show hasn’t seen quite the same financial success as the film it’s based on, since the grosses have been inconsistent from week to week. Recently, the show has made a comeback from a dip in ticket sales and over Thanksgiving 2019, the show broke the Winter Garden box office record with a whopping 1.6 million dollars in total ticket sales. This is indicative of the show’s recent recovery and demonstrates the potential of future ticket sales.
The Real Reasons for 'Beetlejuice' Being Booted From Broadway
The early eviction of Beetlejuice from the Winter Garden is caused by a show conflict with The Music Man, a revival coming to Broadway and set to star Hugh Jackman in the leading role. The Music Man is likely to be very successful since the show appeals to older audiences who remember the previous film and stage adaptations of the show. Hugh Jackman will also be a big draw for audiences who idolize the actor from both his Hollywood and stage careers. Beetlejuice has conversely attracted the admiration of young and new audiences, and over a third of the show’s audiences are first time theatregoers. Since The Music Man appeals to older audiences, and those audiences have the financial means to shell out more money for Broadway tickets, the eviction of Beetlejuice seems to be largely a financial decision, despite Beetlejuice’s recent box office upwards trajectory. This reveals a fundamental lack of imagination on behalf of the landlord, The Shubert Organization, who would prefer to try the traditional approach towards audiences rather than innovating and appealing to new generations of theatregoers. Beetlejuice could, in theory, make more money for the landlord than The Music Man, but the landlord does not want to take that risk, especially when it is outside their wheelhouse.
'Beetlejuice' Fans React
The announcement of Beetlejuice’s premature closing generated both confusion and outrage from Broadway artists, dedicated fans, and even Hollywood celebrities. The popular comedian, John Mulaney, remarked: “There are few reliable barometers in entertainment, but if the audience decides a show is great and tickets are in demand, leave the show alone”. Fans voiced their outrage on Twitter and other social media pages and have started a change.org petition to save the show. While the petition has already amassed over 25,000 signatures, it is unlikely that the Shubert Organization will revert their decision and be able to find another theatre for The Music Man or even another theatre to move Beetlejuice into.
What is the Future of 'Beetlejuice' the Musical?
While some fans are hoping Beetlejuice will move to another theatre, it is unlikely that the show will be able to migrate given the astronomical costs of moving a show and the fact that there are no vacancies for a show of this size. Broadway theatres are in high demand, with many shows often fighting ferociously for a spot to perform on the Great White Way. Beetlejuice is set to embark on a US national tour in Fall 2021, although the cities and dates have not yet been announced, but it is expected to be at least 20 stops. Plans are also underway for a follow-up film to the original 1988 Beetlejuice movie, but Michael Keaton will likely return to the titular role and fans should not expect any of the Broadway stars to be involved in the project or the film.