Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer of the blockbuster Hamilton and a producer of the film version that streamed on Disney+, received an emergency small business loan for his company backed by the federal government, according to Treasury Dept. data released on Monday.
Seller’s Adventureland LLC got a $150,000 to $350,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan via Signature Bank. (The government hasn’t disclosed exact loan sizes).
Seller — whose previous hits include Rent, Avenue Q and In the Heights — is one of the world’s most successful theater producers and has likely earned hundreds of millions of dollars from Hamilton. Emails sent to Adventureland and to spokesmen for the Broadway production weren’t immediately returned.
Hamilton has grossed well over $1 billion in New York and on its various national tours since the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical began previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in July 2015. Seller is entitled to 5 percent of net profit distributed “off the top” from all productions — for his role financing and developing the musical about the first treasury secretary. And he shares half of total adjusted net profit with Hamilton‘s two other producers, Jill Furman and Sander Jacobs. The producers also get a cut of box office of all productions and part of the $75 million Disney reportedly paid for the film rights.
In the year ending in July 2019, the Broadway production distributed profit of $72 million, of which the producers get half, according to papers filed with the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James. (The breakdown among the producers and any producer profits they relinquish to others isn’t disclosed.) In addition, the Broadway producers earned $10 million in royalties, office charges and Seller’s off-the-top profit in 2018-19.
PPP loans are intended to help companies retain jobs during the coronavirus crisis. The data doesn’t say how many jobs Seller’s loan helped his company retain. The loans are overseen by the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration and may be forgiven when borrowers spend at least 60 percent of the money on payroll over 24 weeks. (Terms were originally stricter, requiring 75 percent going to payroll over eight weeks.)
On April 23, after publicly traded companies disclosed getting PPP loans, Treasury said on its web site that borrowers must certify that economic uncertainty “makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant.” The Small Business Administration has said it will review all loans larger than $2 million, as well as smaller ones “as appropriate,” when the borrower applies for loan forgiveness.
Seller isn’t entirely an outlier. Other recipients of the $521 billion borrowing program include wealthy money managers, property developers and law firms, according to media reports, citing the Treasury data.
As previously reported, the Public Theater, where Hamilton premiered off-Broadway, received a roughly $4 million PPP loan. The funds helped it to delay furloughs of 160 staffers for two months. Most if not all of the employees will be furloughed indefinitely beginning this month, a person familiar with the theater said.
National Artists Management Co., which is controlled by Barry and Fran Weissler, the lead producers of the long-running revival Chicago, received a $350,000 to $1 million loan, according to the data. Chicago has grossed $681 million on Broadway alone. Namco’s loan helped the company retain 22 jobs, according to the disclosure. A production spokesman didn’t respond to an email.
The Roundabout Theatre Co. got a $5 million to $10 million PPP loan and Lincoln Center Theater received $2 million to $5 million. The two companies are among the most prominent nonprofits in the industry and control a total of four Broadway theaters.