Skip to main content Skip to footer site map



What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?- Page 4

MargoChanning
Broadway Legend
joined:4/5/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/5/04
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#76
Posted: 8/21/06 at 6:43pm
This is the reason that so many shows we see now (and frankly have for decades in one way or another) are based on material that was a big hit in some other medium (movies like Lion King and Beauty and The Beast, plays like Auntie Mame and Pygmalion, and books like Wicked or The Color Purple -- that was also a hit movie) or consists of songs that were already hits on the radio (hits like Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia and Movin Out and flops like Saturday Night Fever, Good Vibrations, and Ring of Fire) or have a major star above the title (like Hugh Jackman or Nathan Lane or Matthew Broderick). It's very hard to raise $10 million and having something or someone that's already proven to be very popular with the general public makes the job much easier. This obviously is no guarantee that the resulting show will be any good, but at least it's a start.

That's why we see fewer and fewer musicals that are completely original. Such shows are hard to raise money for and harder to sell to the general public once they're finished (and frankly that was almost as true 50 years ago as it is now -- 90% of the greatest shows in history were based on a play or a book and many of them had major stars in the lead roles). Shows like Avenue Q and Spelling Bee are anomolies, but great reviews can help and by and large such shows cost far less than the typical musical (both cost only about $3.5 million, making recoupment a much easier task).

This is the reason most Sondheim shows have not been major hits -- most are based on completely original ideas and even those that weren't, like Little Night Music and Passion were based on foreign films that were largely unknown to the general public. Since his shows were not based on pre-sold commodities that were mainstream hits and often didn't use major star names, his shows have struggled over the years commercially. He only had great reviews (which he didn't always get back in the 70s), awards and his own personal name recognition to sell the shows and while some recouped and all of them helped advance the artform, none of them compare financially to the successes of Webber or Herman or Boubil & Schoenberg, whose big hits were all based on previous well-known material, and/or were spectacles, and/or had big star names and were far more accessible to your typical theatre fan than much of Sondheim's work.

Originality can be great and its important for the future of musical theatre, but the lesson seems to be that if you want to have a better chance for your show to find wide acceptance and make a lot of money, base it on a big movie or get the rights to the music catalogue of ABBA or the Four Seasons or some other million-selling group. The result may not be art, but it can make a whole lot of money.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
Updated On: 8/21/06 at 06:43 PM
FoscasBohemianDream
Broadway Star
joined:1/20/06
Broadway Star
joined:
1/20/06
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#77
Posted: 8/21/06 at 6:55pm
I believe that's the major difference between a show that is done for commercial purposes and a show that is clearly made for art's sake (for lack of a better term). I don't think that at any point Sondheim and Hal Prince thought a show like Pacific Overtures would make money, they both felt the need to put on this show and they did. This is also why not-for-profit theater has become so prominent for the development of new shows (I doubt The Light in the Piazza would have ever been mounted in the post-Disney era without Lincoln Center's support).
Ebonic_Singer Profile PhotoEbonic_Singer Profile Photo
Ebonic_Singer
Broadway Legend
joined:8/18/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/18/04
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#78
Posted: 8/21/06 at 10:03pm
Is Spring Awakening original, or based on something?
MargoChanning
Broadway Legend
joined:4/5/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/5/04
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#79
Posted: 8/21/06 at 10:08pm
Spring Awakening is based on a 19th century seminal German play by Frank Wedekind with the same title.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
firescape Profile Photofirescape Profile Photo
firescape
Stand-by
joined:2/27/06
Stand-by
joined:
2/27/06
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#80
Posted: 8/22/06 at 12:35pm
"I feel that no thread about flops would be complete without a mention of Frank Wildhorn. His Jekyll & Hyde, Scarlett Pimpernel (all three or four versions), The Civil War and Dracula all were massive flops on Broadway (though some later recouped on the road and internationally) and collectively lost more than $30 million. That must be some sort of record for one composer. "

WHAT??!! I must ask how Jekyll and Hyde which ran at least three years can be considered as a part of these "massive flops?" That must've been a mistake. Civil War, definitely. Scarlet Pimpernel, whatever. I do not think jekyll falls into this category.
TomMonster Profile PhotoTomMonster Profile Photo
TomMonster
Broadway Legend
joined:5/28/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/28/05
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#81
Posted: 8/22/06 at 2:01pm
You can still run 3 years (or more) and still not make back the initial investment. Jekyll & Hyde lost money in it's initial run on Broadway.
"It's not so much do what you like, as it is that you like what you do." SS

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana." GMarx
Ebonic_Singer Profile PhotoEbonic_Singer Profile Photo
Ebonic_Singer
Broadway Legend
joined:8/18/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/18/04
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#82
Posted: 8/22/06 at 3:02pm
I think the music is a flop, at any rate :).
Thesbijean
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/9/04
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#83
Posted: 8/22/06 at 3:13pm
My favorite recent flop example is 42nd Street Revival.

How Dodger Theatricals could produce a revival of one of the most cherished shows of all time, have it run for 4.5 years and over 1500 performances and NOT recoup the whole initial investmewnt is still beyond me.
best12bars Profile Photobest12bars Profile Photo
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/29/05
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#84
Posted: 8/22/06 at 3:39pm
Anyone know what show has had the longest run on Broadway without recouping its initial investment? (aka "flopped")

I'll bet 42nd Street revival is close to wearing the crown.

4 1/2 years??? And it flopped? Brilliant.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3, Hamilton22
firescape Profile Photofirescape Profile Photo
firescape
Stand-by
joined:2/27/06
Stand-by
joined:
2/27/06
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#85
Posted: 8/22/06 at 7:03pm
"You can still run 3 years (or more) and still not make back the initial investment. Jekyll & Hyde lost money in it's initial run on Broadway."


I need to read this report for myself to believe it.

music sucks huh? LOL. Some people have no appreciation for variety in music theater. Wildhorn is one of the top composers to have his shows liscenced out around the world and yes many here in the US as well.



neddyfrank2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/23/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/23/05
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#86
Posted: 8/22/06 at 7:53pm
I don't think this was a huge budget show but Caroline or Change lost a lot of money.
americanboy99 Profile Photoamericanboy99 Profile Photo
americanboy99
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/27/06
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#87
Posted: 8/22/06 at 8:00pm
What about Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle with Angela Lansbury that only ran for like a week or something? Was that not his biggest flop?
MargoChanning
Broadway Legend
joined:4/5/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/5/04
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#88
Posted: 8/22/06 at 8:16pm
Caroline was capitalized at only $5.5 million and paid back a percentage of that, so it wasn't even one of the top flops of that year, let alone "ever."

Anyone Can Whistle only ran a week and Merrily We Roll Along only ran two. Both lost their entire investments, but Merrily cost more (it opened 15 years later) so I suppose it would be considered his biggest flop.


"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
batboysings
Stand-by
joined:5/7/07
Stand-by
joined:
5/7/07
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#89
Posted: 9/13/20 at 9:45am

Reviving this ancient thread to find out if there is factual evidence of Broadway's biggest financial flop... I have a feeling that flying superhero show may have something to do with it. 

yankeefan7
Broadway Legend
joined:4/14/12
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/14/12
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#90
Posted: 9/13/20 at 11:36am

I would be very surprised if "Spiderman" was not the biggest monetary flop. I think we all need to remember that since 80% of shows don't recoup, it is quite easy for even a decent show to be considered a flop.

itsjustmejonhotmailcom Profile Photoitsjustmejonhotmailcom Profile Photo
itsjustmejonhotmailcom
Leading Actor
joined:5/29/13
Leading Actor
joined:
5/29/13
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#91
Posted: 9/13/20 at 12:00pm

yankeefan7 said: "I would be very surprised if "Spiderman" was not the biggest monetary flop. I thinkwe all need to remember that since 80% of shows don't recoup, it is quite easy for even a decent show to be considered a flop."

Yeah, I bet Spiderman (≈$75M) and King Kong (≈$35M), are at the top of the list.

ggersten Profile Photoggersten Profile Photo
ggersten
Broadway Legend
joined:5/11/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/11/06
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#92
Posted: 9/13/20 at 1:10pm
Depending on how theatre recovers, I wonder how much the Broadway Harry Potter may end up losing if you count the buyouts and buildouts. Paramour may not have lost Spider Man dollars, especially with the buyout from Potter, otherwise it could be up there
ggersten Profile Photoggersten Profile Photo
ggersten
Broadway Legend
joined:5/11/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/11/06
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#93
Posted: 9/13/20 at 1:10pm
Depending on how theatre recovers, I wonder how much the Broadway Harry Potter may end up losing if you count the buyouts and buildouts. Paramour may not have lost Spider Man dollars, especially with the buyout from Potter, otherwise it could be up there
Mr Roxy Profile PhotoMr Roxy Profile Photo
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/17/03
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#94
Posted: 9/13/20 at 1:42pm
The biggest at its time was Via Galactica it lost it entire $750,000 investment. Dude had to be close behind. The investors gave them the keys to the kingdom much like those those who threw money at Michael Cimino after the Deer Hunter movie. It ultimately led to the demise of United Artists .

Poster Emeritus
HogansHero Profile PhotoHogansHero Profile Photo
HogansHero
Broadway Legend
joined:2/26/12
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/26/12
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#95
Posted: 9/13/20 at 2:30pm

Mr Roxy said: "The biggest at its time was Via Galactica it lost it entire $750,000 investment. Dude had to be close behind. The investors gave them the keys to the kingdom much like those those who threw money at Michael Cimino after the Deer Hunter movie. It ultimately led to the demise of United Artists . "

Hundreds if not thousands of shows have lost their entire investment. "Biggest" is a function of the inflation in investments such that no show beyond recent history can factor into the discussion. Interesting observation about UA. Too bad it is massively over-simplified and totally incorrect. 

But thanks for playing!

Sutton Ross Profile PhotoSutton Ross Profile Photo
Sutton Ross
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/13
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/20/13
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#96
Posted: 9/13/20 at 2:42pm

It's Spiderman, of course. Goddamn what a bomb. 

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/10/11
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#97
Posted: 9/13/20 at 3:46pm

HogansHero said: "Mr Roxy said: "The biggest at its time was Via Galactica it lost it entire $750,000 investment. Dude had to be close behind. The investors gave them the keys to the kingdom much like those those who threw money at Michael Cimino after the Deer Hunter movie. It ultimately led to the demise of United Artists . "

Hundreds if not thousands of shows have lost their entire investment. "Biggest" is a function of the inflation in investments such that no show beyond recent history can factor into the discussion. Interesting observation about UA. Too bad it is massively over-simplified and totally incorrect.

But thanks for playing!
"

It would be interesting to know what show lost the most, adjusted for inflation, but that is not likely to happen unless some PhD candidate statistician tries to do it (and where would the data be?).  

I do remember that when the mid-60s musical, Kelly, closed on opening night, it became notorious because at the time, it was 'the most expensive show ever produced' (mind you, not inflation-adjusted) and was -- as I recall -- also the first musical to close on opening night, losing not its entire investment (which I believe was $650,000).  

Adjusting that figure for inflation, I would still imagine that Spiderman and King Kong lost more, just based on their physical productions.  But who knows?

blaxx Profile Photoblaxx Profile Photo
blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/28/05
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#98
Posted: 9/13/20 at 4:15pm

Jarethan said: "HogansHero said: "Mr Roxy said: "The biggest at its time was Via Galactica it lost it entire $750,000 investment. Dude had to be close behind. The investors gave them the keys to the kingdom much like those those who threw money at Michael Cimino after the Deer Hunter movie. It ultimately led to the demise of United Artists . "

Hundreds if not thousands of shows have lost their entire investment. "Biggest" is a function of the inflation in investments such that no show beyond recent history can factor into the discussion. Interesting observation about UA. Too bad it is massively over-simplified and totally incorrect.

But thanks for playing!
"

It would be interesting to know what show lost the most, adjusted for inflation, but that is not likely to happen unless some PhD candidate statistician tries to do it (and where would the data be?).

I do remember that when the mid-60s musical, Kelly, closed on opening night, it becamenotorious because at thetime, it was 'the most expensive show ever produced' (mind you, not inflation-adjusted) and was -- as I recall -- also the first musical tocloseon opening night, losing not its entire investment (which I believe was $650,000).

Adjusting that figure for inflation, I would still imagine that Spiderman and King Kong lost more, just based on their physical productions. But who knows?
"

Zero energy to go dig articles, but when Spider-Man closed it was quoted that it lost the amount that it would cost to produce 2-3 new Broadway shows. 

It will be a while for another musical to lose that much money, and I imagine that it will be a while until another senseless investment of that magnitude is made again.

Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
itsjustmejonhotmailcom Profile Photoitsjustmejonhotmailcom Profile Photo
itsjustmejonhotmailcom
Leading Actor
joined:5/29/13
Leading Actor
joined:
5/29/13
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#99
Posted: 9/13/20 at 4:23pm

Jarethan said: "It would be interesting to know what show lost the most, adjusted for inflation, but that is not likely to happen unless some PhD candidate statistician tries to do it (and where would the data be?).
 

It would just take some googling and simple arithmetic. No PhD stats candidate needed.

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/10/11
re: What Was the Biggest Monetary Flop?#100
Posted: 9/13/20 at 4:24pm

itsjustmejonhotmailcom said: "Jarethan said: "It would be interesting to know what show lost the most, adjusted for inflation, but that is not likely to happen unless some PhD candidate statistician tries to do it (and where would the data be?).


It would just take some googling and simple arithmetic. No PhD stats candidate needed.
"

Go for it.