Every now and then I like to see how much people can make in the theater. And so I collect investment papers on upcoming Broadway shows and apply my celebrated forensic accounting skills.
Remember: The gross is not the same as the net.
In any case, I got my hands on the financial papers of “Rocky,” which opens in March at the Winter Garden. (Andy Karl’s been cast as Rocky; Margo Siebert as Adrian.)
It’s an expensive production, though not out of line with the going rate for Broadway musicals these days. The show will cost $16.5 million to produce. The biggest item is the set, which is budgeted at $4.3 million. Much of that is being spent on a life-size boxing ring that, at the climax of the show, rises up and out over the audience.
The musical ran in Germany last year — “Rocky, Das Musical” — and critics said it was “dazzling.”
The lead producer, Joop van den Ende, is a billionaire entertainment mogul and could put up the $16.5 million himself. He’s footed the bill for flops like “Footloose,” “Dracula” and “Good Vibrations.” But this time, he’s raising most of the capital from other sourceMargo Seibert has been cast as “Adrian.”
(If you’re interested, I believe the entry point is $250,000.)
“Everybody’s investing in it because they’re bullish on it,” says a veteran investor. “And Joop’s tired of losing his own money.”
The people who stand to make the most from “Rocky” are Sylvester Stallone and the producers of the 1976 movie, Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler.
Together, they’re being paid a hefty advance for the underlying rights — $600,000.
“That’s very high,” says a theater source. “The standard is about $100,000. But this is ‘Rocky.’ ”
They’re also guaranteed $8,000 a week until the show recoups, after which they get 1 percent of the weekly gross receipts. If the show’s a sellout at the Winter Garden, it can gross $1.4 million per week.
And they’re entitled to a whopping 20 percent of the net profits.
Andy Karl has been cast as “Rocky Balboa.”
Of course, their payday is predicated on the show turning a profit. And while “Rocky” is an excellent title, I’m told tickets aren’t selling as briskly as the producers had hoped.
That means the show could be at the mercy of those noted pugilist aficionados Elisabeth Vincentelli, Ben Brantley and Roma Torre.
At the risk of sounding like the columnist who cried “J.J. Hunsecker!” I’m hearing that my favorite show, “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark,” may close Jan. 5. The grosses have been frightening — about $700,000 a week, which means losses of at least $300,000 per week.
The stomping sound you hear is “King Kong,” making its way to the Foxwoods Theatre.
I poked fun at producer Kevin McCollum in a column last week, writing that he dyed his hair like Sean Connery in “You Only Live Twice.”
But I stand corrected.
Says Kevin: “I have officially entered the ‘salt and pepper’ phase of life and never used hair dye. However, I have occasionally pulled my hair out after reading some of your past columns.”
Or should I say, toupee!
By: Michael Riedel