Jeremy Gerard offers a pre-postmortem on the financial bust of putting up a less-than-successful play like Impressionism on Broadway.
Then again, with Jack O'Brien helming and actors Joan Allen and Jeremy freakin' Irons, there's a good chunk of your $3 million right there, just in salaries!
In 1982, [Emanuel] Azenberg produced the first play in Simon’s semi- autobiographical trilogy, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” for $500,000. The revival he’ll present next season, he said, will run $3 million.“Over the last 25 years, all the costs have spiraled with no constraints,” Azenberg told me. The physical production, he said, “cost $100,000 then; it will cost $500,000 now.”
“The director’s fee was $25,000 then,” he continued. “It will be $100,000 now. An ad in the Times was $20,000 then; it’s $110,000 now. With payments to the pension fund and health plans, the cost of union labor today is $100 an hour.”
That’s the reality facing “Impressionism” producer Haber.The show has a limited run of 16 weeks. The week of the opening, when “Impressionism” earned $289,057, ticket sales covered rent, advertising and payroll. The following week, sales bumped up to $325,000, attesting to the positive word of mouth I was talking about. Still, in order to recoup its $3 million cost, it will need to nearly double its box office income, which seems highly unlikely.
(Because this is Bloomberg, the headline, naturally is: "Broadway’s $500,000 Sets, Unions Scare Investors." Unions: scarier than a half a million bucks worth of scenery dropped on your head.)