Screen rights to Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton, were bought by Disney for $75 million and the new movie is set to be released on October 15th, 2021
It was announced on Monday, February 3rd, 2020, from the official twitter account of Lin Manuel-Miranda, that a pre-taped Hamilton performance will be released as a full-length feature film. Disney bought the rights to this original cast Broadway performance, which was specially recorded in mid 2016, for the steep price of $75 million. This is the first time a Broadway show recording has been bought by a major movie studio. Fans could not be more excited to be able to watch the original cast perform once again, even if it is a bit of an old recording, it is expected to become an instant classic. This recording of the show has Miranda starring in the main role as Alexander Hamilton, as well as the other original cast members, many of whom were in their Broadway debut roles. The film is set to be released in movie theatres all around the world on October 15th, 2021 and has the marketing, backing and process of the Disney powerhouse and its grip on distribution. The video recording was shot two weeks before the original cast began to move onto other projects, so it is not only a poignant time in the shows history, but an emotive one too.
What The Movie Experience Offers
With the upcoming release of the original cast video recording, Disney has lowered the barrier-for-entry to fans who want to see Hamilton. Disney is opening up the door to fans who have not been able to afford, or go to NYC, to see the expensive show in person. Thomas Kail, Hamilton’s director, stated “This movie release allows viewers to experience the show from the best seats in the house and not pay an arm and a leg for tickets”. The movie also takes away the bragging rights from the few lucky people who were able to see the show with the original cast before July of 2016, which is when the original cast began to move on from the show. Everyone who sees the film will now be able to experience the show with the original cast, the flair and the magic that they brought to the stage. The original version of the show at the Public Theatre was never taped in high quality and bragging rights for the Public Theatre snobs will unfortunately remain.
Hamilton Film Release May Grow The Fan Base But Reduce Ticket Sales
Getting to see Hamilton on Broadway is no easy feat and the launch of the movie will undoubtedly change that. Hamilton is the only Broadway show that has won 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, making the tickets to the show still quite expensive. At its zenith, on Lin Manual Miranda's last night, the top tickets for Hamilton sold for $25,000 each, but ticket prices are still at $850 for the most premium orchestra seats and $375 for the average lesser ticket. While Hamilton does offer a free to enter lottery, the odds are stacked against entrants because there could be as many as 10,000 people applying to get the same lucky seats. Only 2.5 million people have actually been able to see Hamilton in-person because of how exclusive the tickets are. While 2.5 million people is still a lot of people, especially for Broadway, it is still only a small fraction of the amount of people who actually want to see the show and the release of this film will fix that issue.
What Disney Is Planning
While it is still up in the air as to what all of Disney’s plans are for the film, it has been reported that part of the deal made with Disney includes a commitment to a “world-wide theatrical release of the 2 hour, 40 minute recording”. After the theatrical release of the film, Disney is considering adding the show recording to its streaming service, Disney+ for their at-home viewers to enjoy.
Disney and Lin Manuel-Miranda have been planning this deal for some years now and it comes as a shock that it finally happened. While a lot of specifics of the deal are still unknown to the public, Broadway insiders have reported that Disney’s deal beat out other offers from entertainment giants, like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime for the rights to the show recording. The losers reportedly low-balled Miranda with a $64 Million offer and he realized the true value of the gold mine that he owns once Disney responded.
What This Broadway-To-Film Release Means For The Broadway Industry
Hamilton has been the best selling Broadway show every week since the musical opened in July 2015. After the movie is released, the various productions around the world might see a drop in gross ticket sales. After the film is released fans will no longer have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a ticket or commute into NYC to experience the musical. Many fans will simply choose to avoid the headache and save their money to see a different Broadway show instead. They may choose to just see Hamilton at their local movie theatre or on streaming services. The expected drop in gross ticket revenues for this show might hurt Broadway ticket sales as a whole, but Miranda will not be hurting because he now owns 100% of the brand and is now $75 million richer.
Despite being just a few years old, Hamilton is currently the fourth highest grossing Broadway show ever, with over $630 million in gross ticket sales revenue. The top three Broadway shows above it, in terms of ticket revenue, are the Lion King, Wicked and The Book of Mormon, but it will not take long for Hamilton to surpass those Broadway behemoths.