There is no denying that Broadway shows, musicals and dramas, bring a great deal of money for investors, producers, directors, performers, musicians, stage hands and so many others that are required to make a production wonderful. Shows on Broadway have been known to pull in millions of dollars in only a week’s time. We would like to dedicate this blog entry to the ten Broadway shows that grossed the most at the box office the week ending October 9, 2016.
Sitting at the bottom and the top of our list, this first musical is based on the life and songwriting of Carole King. With a book written by Douglas McGrath the music used in this musical are songs written by the legendary Ms. King herself. Because this show utilizes songs that were already popular on the radio this kind of show is titled a “jukebox musical.”
The first theater to host Beautiful was the Curran Theater in San Francisco and they did so in October of 2013 and every show, including opening night, was sold out until the end of its run. It moved from California and premiered at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on January 12, 2014. The subject for this work, Carole King, attended a performance in April and took time to sing with the performers from the stage.
The week ending on October 9, 2016 Beautiful took in $991,138, and this number is not surprising when we think of the great acclaim this musical has received in the past few years. The year it opened on Broadway Beautiful was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won Best Sound Design while cast member Jessie Mueller took home the trophy for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. In 2014 Beautiful also won three Drama Desk Awards.
The next show on our list is a revival of the fourth longest running production on Broadway. Opening on January 21, 2016 at the Neil Simon Theatre, only ten months later and this production is making a killing at the box office taking in $1,001,791 the week ending on October 9, 2016. Yet, this show did not make its debut on Broadway.
On May 11, 1981 Cats had its very first premiere at the New London Theatre in the West End. This original production would go on to do nearly 9,000 performances before closing in 2002. It held the spot as the longest running musical in London until 2006 when Les Misérables took its place.
In 1982 the first U.S. production of Cats premiered at the Winter Garden Theatre and went on to perform more than 7,000 and maintains its stay on the list of longest running musicals in Broadway history. It held the number one spot on that list until 2006, the same year it got bumped in London, when The Phantom of the Opera replaced it. In between the productions mentioned already Cats has been staged in Vienna, Hamburg, Paris, Madrid, South Korea, Bahrain, China, Australia and many other locations around the world.
8. School of Rock
The next heavy hitter at the box office is the first on our list to be based on a movie. While working on another show in London, Andrew Lloyd Webber made the announcement that he had paid for the privilege of turning the successful film into a stage musical. Weber chose to debut School of Rock on Broadway because the laws protecting child laborers was more lenient in the U.S. than London.
After all was said and done School of Rock opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in December of 2015 and was the first time in nearly fifty years that a musical by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber opened in the United States opposed to London. It was the intention of Lloyd Webber, with the stage version of School of Rock, to focus more on the stories surrounding the children rather than the substitute teacher, played by Jack Black in the movie.
The critics raved about this production and the ticket sales are proof of its popularity. School of Rock took in $1,081,852 the week ending October 9, 2016 meaning that nearly a year later this show is still as successful as it was when it opened. It was also nominated for four Tony Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, an Outer Critics Circle Award and many more.
7. An American in Paris
Our next show to make it on the top ten high grossers at the box office list has a connection with the previous entry simply for the fact that this too was based on a movie by the same name. The first production of this musical was not on Broadway but in the city it is based, Paris. It opened at the Théâtre du Châtelet in December of 2014.
In April of the next year An American in Paris made its Broadway debut at the Palace Theatre, and that is where it continues to be performed today. The week ending on October 9, 2016 this musical took in $1,119,140. This is quite a feat and it doesn’t look like the ticket sales will be slowing down anytime soon.
A London production is scheduled to open in March of 2017 at the Dominion Theatre. Still, the Broadway production, which continues to bring in big box office numbers, won four Tony Awards and was nominated for a Grammy in the category Best Musical Theater Album. It was also awarded many other accolades including Fred and Adele Astaire Awards and a Drama League Award.
6. The Front Page
Sitting at number six this comedy, which has a plot that surrounds a Chicago reporter by the name of Hildy Johnson. Johnson stumbles upon a story that would expose city officials and their crookedness. This revival, which brought in $1,221,425 in the one week we are covering in this blog, is outselling other shows in its previews. The Front Page, starring Nathan Lane, does not officially open until October 20th.
Some interesting facts about this show is that it was originally written for the stage by two former Chicago newspaper reporters and it has been adapted for film and television several times. One of the most popular reproductions is the movie His Girl Friday starring Carey Grant and Rosalind Russell. In that version Hildy is played by a woman and she is written in as the ex-wife of editor Walter Burns, another significant character in the plot.
The first production of this smash stage comedy opened in August of 1928 at the Times Square Theatre in New York City. Since then it has been revived several times, including the current production with Lane, which is showing at the Broadhurst Theatre. The performances, which also star John Slattery, John Goodman and Jefferson Mays, are only running until September 20th of this year.
5. The Book of Mormon
It is not surprising that the creators of Southpark are still pulling in strong numbers at the box office with their Tony Award winning story about missionaries, faith and war lord oppression. Opening in March of 2011, this musical comedy sat in what industry insiders call “development hell”, which refers to the seven years it took to get this production off the ground. For research Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators, met with authentic missionaries form The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From the previews, to the opening at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, The Book of Mormon has not only wowed and thrilled audiences for five years, it also received praises from the critics from the very beginning. The results of the seven long years it took to put this together are nine Tonys and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. In fact, that recording reached higher on the charts than any other Broadway cast record in forty years.
From New York, The Book of Mormon has made its way to theaters in Chicago and London and has a premiere scheduled for this coming January at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne. All of this attention sure has made a pretty profit for the creators of this show, which took in $1,417,234 the week ending October 9, 2016.
Also based on a movie by the same name this is the first one on our list that was inspired by an animated film. With music composed by Alan Menken and lyrics scribed by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin this musical first opened in 2011 in Seattle at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Yet it didn’t move directly to Broadway. First it had tryouts in Toronto in 2013. Eventually it made its way to the New Amsterdam Theatre making its Broadway debut on March 20, 2014.
The week ending on October 9, 2016 Aladdin grossed $1,535,611 putting it in the top five grossing shows on our list. In 2014 it was nominated for five Tony Awards with James Monroe Iglehart taking home the trophy for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. Iglehart also won the Drama Desk Award that year.
Getting closer to the top we will stop and check out the prequel to the adored Wizard of Oz that has received tons of critical acclaim. Taking in $1,719,802 for the week ending October 9, 2016 Wicked has been entertaining audiences since its opening in 2003. Written by Stephen Schwartz this musical has made its way into many cities with tours or residencies.
The first production of Wicked was not put on Broadway right away but tried out at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. That was in June of 2003 and by October of that same year it was settled into the George Gershwin Theatre and is still running today. It doesn’t look like its spot on Broadway is any less secure bringing in close to $2 million in one week.
2. The Lion King
This is the second production to be based on an animated movie and the first to have a musical writer of rock star status. Elton John worked as the musical contributor on The Lion King while Tim Rice wrote lyrics. Another first on our list is the costumes, which are made in a puppet like fashion and the only show we have talked about that utilized this artistic affect.
Before it’s Broadway premiere in 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theater it debuted earlier that year at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. The crowds loved it and it remained at the New Amsterdam until 2006, when it relocated to the Minskoff Theatre where it is still performing today.
Not only did The Lion King take in $2,055,928 the week ending October 9, 2016 it also sits third on the list of longest running shows on Broadway with nearly 7,000 performances. In fact, even though it grossed the second highest amount in the one particular week we are focusing on in this blog, The Lion King is the highest-grossing musical on Broadway pulling in nearly a billion dollars.
Opening at The Public Theater, an Off-Broadway location, in February of 2015, this musical began selling out their seats from the very beginning. In August of that same year Hamilton moved to the Richard Rodgers Theater, where it is showing today. The critics loved it right away and advanced ticket sales began to blow up right away.
The plot is based upon Ron Chernow’s 2004 book telling the life of Alexander Hamilton. The inspiration came to writer and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda when he read the book. After only a few chapters Miranda began developing the show and it is now the top grossing show on Broadway in recent weeks. In the week ending October 9, 2016 Hamilton took in $2,214,118.