Box Office

Steven Adler

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Box Office


The article examines the influence of the box office on the making of musicals. The key players in the box-office arena are producers, attorneys, critics, general managers, and investors. Producers evaluate a theater's location, stage size, sightlines, ambience, and seating capacity to determine where to house a production. Producers must consider theater rents, union-negotiated salaries, royalties, equipment, advertising, insurance, utilities, and development expenses for earlier versions of the show, and weekly operating expenses, when considering whether to proceed with a production. Muscular box-office receipts and small capitalization result in rapid recoupment. The relationship between commercial producers and not-for-profit theaters is a relatively new but vitally important factor in the box-office arena. Producing wisdom, composed of equal parts experience and intuition, is essential in determining the future of new work. Spring Awakening played at the Off Broadway, not-for-profit Atlantic Theater Company in spring 2006. Off Broadway, a designation that applies to a range of not-for-profit and commercial theaters throughout Manhattan, is a less expensive choice and with a maximum of 499 seats and being a lower remunerative venue than Broadway, theaters can seat as many as 2,000. Good ideas may succeed in one venue but fail in another. Many new musicals that earn significant audience reaction elsewhere fail on Broadway, where different expectations and audience demographics create a more challenging environment.

Keywords: box office; not-for-profit theaters; advertising; insurance; theater rents; Broadway musicals; audience reaction

Article.  6386 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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