Stage Money: The Business of the Professional Theater

By Tim Donahue; Jim Patterson | Go to book overview

Appendix
2008–2009 Broadway Season Summary

The 2008–2009 season, represented by this table, is not unlike most Broadway seasons in the new millennium. In all, the season grossed close to a billion dollars. Still, this season tells a piece of the story of high risk and return that is Broadway.

Of seventy-seven shows running at some time during the season, ten (13 percent) were “long runs,” musicals that opened in an earlier season and/or continued into the next season, running more than five hundred performances, the conventional definition of a long run. Six were “megahit” musicals: The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, and Wicked. After the close of the season, Billy Elliot and the revival of South Pacific may be added to the long-running shows. Two nonmusical plays were also longrunning, August: Osage County and The 39 Steps.

Of the seventy-seven shows, twenty-seven (35 percent) made back their investment, twenty (26 percent) did not, and 16 (21 percent) were too-soon-to-tell at the close of the season. Not-for-profits produced 15 shows, about 19 percent.

About 44 percent of the seventy-seven productions—thirty-four shows— were nonmusical plays. An additional four shows, or just over 5 percent, were special or concert shows. A total of eight nonmusical plays originated on Broadway (about 10 percent of all productions).

Of all shows, fifteen (19 percent) were produced by not-for-profit theaters. Another forty-two productions originated in the not-for-profit theater or were imports, mostly from London.

A quick flop, The Story of My Life earned less than $265,000, while a hit that opened during this season, Spring Awakening, earned nearly $14 million. Even the limited run of Irving Berlins White Christmas earned over $9 million. Feast or famine.

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