The Playgoer: $400,000

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Thursday, October 22, 2009


That's how much the Pearl Theatre Co. has budgeted for each production this year. (A factoid buried in last weekend's NYT profile of the group.)

I cite it as probably a good measuring stick of just how much it costs to mount a modest full production in an Off Broadway nonprofit theatre these days. Keep in mind that Pearl is working on the lower end of the LORT contract scale, with no "name" stars and modest publicity. They produce classics--which often demand period costumes and what by today's standards are relatively large casts (i.e. more than four). But their productions are hardly lavish.

So if it costs even the little Peal four hundred grand to put on a show...what does that mean for everyone else?

I remember--back in the 70s & early 80s--when folks talked of spending $1 million on a Broadway show as folly.

Four hundred grand is basically half a million. Yes there's been inflation and all, but...gulp.


isaac butler said...


According to the Inflation Calculator:
"What cost $1,000,000 in 1980 would cost $2,485,835.03 in 2007."

So really what we're saying is that in 1980 in REAL DOLLARS, a $2.5 million Broadway show would've been considered unreasonably expensive.


(oh and in case you're wondering, the Pearl's $400K a show in 1980 would've been $160,911.72 a show!)

Ken said...

It means that playwrights will continue to write "chamber" plays, with three or four characters wandering around a single set--not because they all lack imagination, but because a small, easily-contained play that actually gets produced is going to be preferable to a cast-of-thousands time-traveling masterpiece which never leaves the writer's desk drawer.