All The Bucks On Broadway
Lee are standing in the heart of Times Square. This is the heart of where. Yes, there is the line right there. And everybody's taking Selby's. Of course. Lisi more writes for Forbes magazine, he covers theater and Broadway. And he has even produced some shows and Constanza we met Lee at forty seventh and Broadway and everybody really was taking fees. And we were right by the conic TK t s booth where people can buy discount tickets for plays and musicals anyone just standing there. There's all this noise, and these cars, and these people everywhere, and we're just surrounded on all sides by these towering buildings, and it's huge ads for like alcohol, clothing lines stores, and of course, Broadway shows. So if if show is advertising in this space is it like, it means they have money to advertise in Times Square. How much is like one of these billboards that honestly don't. Tens of thousands everything about Broadway is big including all the cost this week. The Tony nominations were announced. And Stacy we started talking about it. We did. And we were like, wait. We work like five blocks away. This is big business. And it's right down the street. This is the indicator from planet money gone stance here though, and I'm Stacey Vanik Smith today on the show mean Costanza, go to Broadway. We look at how much cost launch show how much gos- to run show how much it costs to get tickets for show. And why we're starting to see a lot of musicals that are kind of like, I don't know a not obvious idea for a musical that people would want to see les ever e- needle. Just. Showtime. I'm gonna need some help support for this podcast and the following message. Come from Charles Schwab. When it comes to your money Schwab believes asking questions can lead to better outcomes. Do you know how much you're paying and do you get your fees back? If you're not happy ask your broker, then visit Schwab dot com slash comparis-. Support also comes from Exxon Mobil, the company working to make carbon capture technology more efficient and affordable. So we can be deployed at industrial sites worldwide. Find out more at energy factor dot com. So first off we asked Lisi more about the economics of Broadway, the hits closest to home buying tickets. I've stood in line for discount tickets. I've done all the things to get tickets for by wages. And I'm always thinking when I get the tickets that they feel expensive, you know, they're like sixty bucks seventy bucks a lot. The average ticket price for a Broadway show now is a hundred twenty two. I think really which is wild. Yeah. I mean, so sixty seventy bucks you're getting a good deal. Unfortunately, it's crazy. Should have been grateful. Instead, I was complaining about my own before it's really one hundred twenty one hundred twenty two dollars. We can get into why that's the case. That's today's indicator one hundred twenty two dollars the average price of seed in a Broadway theatre last week. And there are a lot of seats. Typical theater will have between five hundred and two thousand seats and often like h shows week, which just becomes an insane amount of money, really fast. Right. I mean, you could easily pretty conservatively even bring in like a million dollars a week. But lease as there's a really good reason for that it just takes an insane amount of money to put on a Broadway show sugar as of looking at the cost of producing shows. There's the initial capital that you have to raise just to make sure that you cover all of your initial costs. And then there's the weekly operating costs. So I up initial capital you have to raise from investors to put on a musical says this just crazy amount of money between nine and thirty million dollars like upfront and Stacey. A big factor in those upfront cost location location location. We are on Broadway feeder district of Manhattan, basically, forty to fifty fifty six. There are forty forty one Broadway theaters, right now, that's not very many real estate is very limited. Broadway is on a certain level a real estate business and a good chunk of that real estate is taken up by long running shows like Lion King and wicked and now Hamilton which will be running forever. So if you are producer, and you're looking to bring a show into the next Broadway season, you're really looking at between twenty and thirty venues. So once you spend all the money to lock down one of these scarce spaces get your show set up higher your cast, maybe pyre musicians, get the sets ready. You know, spend all the money for a billboard in Times Square. Bazeley spent all of the millions that it takes to get your show up and running. You're not done. Oh, no. You're not done. Now comes the second. Of expenses. You have to pay to run the musical. Yeah. Operating costs operating costs. If you've got a big musical in your running at between five and six hundred thousand week, you are in great shape. Wow. How does anyone make money? That's I that's so expensive in top of like tens of millions to start the show. How hard is it for a show to make money? There's rough rule of thumb it sorta changes season to season. But usually about a third of the shows a quarter two third of chosen any Broadway season recoup will make the money back. Oh, really just make their money back. So not down. Moesha's lose many Moshe owes lose money. What is like a disaster. Like, how soon would disaster close? I mean the week after it opens it have really are fidelity again talking of beloved now closed the week that it opened. I think they ran for like fourteen performances. So high fidelity apparently cost about ten. Million dollars up front, basically all the money was just gone by. Yeah. Broadway's a risky business. But Lee says if you hit it, right? You can make so much money. So the saying goes you can't make living on Broadway, but you can make a killing the lion. King has grossed over a billion dollars. Wicked has reportedly grossed more than three billion dollars. That's between tickets and merchandise. Everything wicked is the property of Universal Studios, and that Broadway, hit wicked has reportedly brought in more money than any movie that Universal Studios has ever made Lisa's movie studios have become a really big presence on Broadway. And he says that's part of why we started to see a certain type of show it feels like they are just reviving every. I don't wanna say bad eighties movie, but like every eighties movie that like I loved as a kid, but it like, okay? So there's like Pretty Woman. And beetlejuice. I'll be your guide. G U E. Doubtfire overreach. Don't you find being a woman right now complicated right now stream legally blondes? I don't know. What is going like is this? What is? You're not the only person asking those questions are feeling those ways in some ways, it's comparable to the way that that Hollywood seem to be a little bit addicted to reboot franchise like Spiderman twenty eight exactly so on Broadway. I think there's a similar it's it's a similar set of forces where because it is so expensive and so risky to produce shows. There's an innate appeal of your producer, and you're looking to make a Broadway hit and you wanna be in the game. And doing the thing the idea of a familiar beloved, especially nostalgic, branded property is alluring for understandable reasons. I think you know, there's there's a built in fan base. Yes. They seem when we were walking around Broadway. We saw all these huge billboards of like waitress of girls, King Kong, Harry Potter Rosen Aladdin, but you know, Lisa's movie studios have a ton of money to spend on Broadway. They can better afford these expensive shows than like an. Independent producer. Also, they have big back catalogues of movies they own. So a Broadway musical can be another way to capitalize on an old investment or not or not a lot of them flop. Actually, the little mermaid on roller skates. Didn't do well roller skates. Neither did Charlie and the chocolate factory. And of course, high-fidelity still digesting roller skates. I don't know is the business of Broadway. Like, our people figuring it out because it was always a sort of famously mysterious business. I mean as made famous by the producers where you can't even figure out what's going to. Even if you really try. I think the short answer is no part of what makes entertainment, whether it's Broadway Hollywood or TV or whatever so risky in general is that you really don't have a sense of what's going to work until it's funny. Your your people? At forty seven and Broadway. This is tickets TKO. How do you say I say tickets to KT s and why did you come here? Tickets for King Kong on fraud. We're looking to try to get tickets to the lion. King looking actually for. Aladdin? It's not there between sixty to seventy and a good seat. That would be nice. I was checking to see the punt opera. I don't say maybe it's sorta thinking to combat. This episode of the indicator was produced by Constanza Gherardo, edited by paddy Hirsch, our intern is will Ruben and the indicator is a production of NPR.