A trip to New York wouldn't be complete without heading to the glitz and bright lights of Broadway. Seeing at least one Broadway musical in your lifetime is an absolute must, whether you're a full-fledged theater aficionado or merely a travel-loving individual craving to satisfy your wanderlust.
Who can resist the music, the costumes, the set, the story that all go all into one beautiful extravaganza? It will leave you happy and quietly humming the tunes of the musical as you walk out of the theater on a high. Then after gushing and marveling at all the extravagance laid out before you, the pragmatist in you kicks in, as you wonder: how much money was shelled out to put that whole thing together? So how much exactly is poured into producing a Broadway musical?
First of all, a Broadway musical would never come to be without the big bucks of the investors and producers who are willing to take the risk and shell out their fortune for a project that may or may not be a hit. Without these financial backers, there would be no production. You can break down the costs into two parts: Production Budget and Operating Costs.
The first component that goes into producing a show is the production budget. The meat of the budget naturally goes into publicity and marketing, which eats up roughly 19% of it. This is understandable, given marketing is the tool that will give the production exposure, which then translates to sales.
Insurance, actors’ fees, and construction materials are on even keel, taking up 17% apiece. The smaller chunks of the budget then go to designer fees, the director, playwright, and of course, miscellaneous expenses.
The weekly operating budget is completely separate from the production budget. This includes weekly salaries (with health insurance) of the stage crew; theater fees, such as rent, utilities; and other incidentals, like unforeseen repairs and rent of the production office.
In 2014, the average cost to produce a musical is around $10 million. So which productions’ investors dared to tip the scale and shell out more than the average amount?*
*Take note that prices are adjusted for inflation.
10 Aladdin: $14 Million
“A Whole New World” was opened to Broadway as Disney’s latest installment began its run last March. With an estimated budget of $14 million, Aladdin is an adaptation of the extremely successful 1992 Disney film with the same title and features many of the original songs in the movie. Its budget of $14 million is on the high side, but with a respectable company like Disney to cover the expenses, you can be sure that every penny is used as wisely as possible.
9 The Phantom of the Opera: $14.2 Million
Touted as the longest running Broadway musical of all time, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera has been gracing the Broadway stage since 1988. This is one show that you wouldn't want to miss. Whether you happen to be in New York or Las Vegas or live in a city where the traveling production stages the musical, buying a ticket to watch the show is worth your while. With its well-known songs “All I Ask of You” and the title song, the phantom, Christine, and Raoul will easily entrance you from the Paris Opera House to the Phantom’s lair in the dungeons.
8 Dance of the Vampires: $15.2 Million
7 Tarzan: $16 Million
6 The Little Mermaid: $16.6 Million
5 Wicked: $16.9 Million
4 Beauty and the Beast: $17.4 Million
3 Lion King: $27.5 Million
2 Shrek the musical: $27.6 Million
1 Spiderman: Turn off the Dark: $79 Million
The biggest spender of all big spenders in Broadway musical history is about a human spider. One of Marvel’s most popular characters was depicted in a rock musical called Spiderman: Turn off the Dark. Like Peter Parker’s alter ego, the budget kept creeping and scaling the walls until it reached a whopping $75 million (now $79 million with inflation) back when it opened in June 2011. Despite the pull of U2’s Bono, who did the music and lyrics, the show failed to give investors back its money. It closed early in 2014 with a loss of $60 million.
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