“You could make a killing, but not a living, in the theater,” said playwright Robert Anderson in a 1966 Christian Science Monitor interview about “Tea and Sympathy,” his successful first Broadway play that was turned into a movie. Anderson couldn’t recreate that same success on stage and turned to teaching and writing Hollywood screenplays.
About 75 percent of Broadway shows — musicals and plays — don’t recoup their investment let alone make money for investors. In NY state there is a strict legal formula concerning who gets paid first (Hint: It’s not Max Bialystock). But that’s not what we’re talking about now. Lucky investors of the original production of “Jersey Boys,” the 12th longest running show on Broadway that grossed more than $2 billion worldwide, told the NYTimes in an article published today (1/15/17), they made back about 22 percent on their original investments.