EXCLUSIVE: Hamilton, the Broadway blockbuster endorsed by the president and first lady, has repaid its investors.
Two people with direct knowledge of the musical’s finances confirmed that it recouped its $12.5 million capitalization. Normally, producers announce when a show breaks even, but Hamilton, “the hardest ticket to get on the planet,” as Michelle Obama put it, has little to prove. Since recouping it’s already begun distributing profits, according to one production source. Reached by phone Friday morning, Sam Rudy, a spokesman for the show said: “I’m not aware that we’ve recouped,” adding that he would check with the producers.
Returning capital was swift by any standard. Hamilton began previews on Broadway eight months ago. The Book of Mormon recouped nine months after its first preview, in February 2011. Tom Viertel, the executive director of the Commercial Theater Institute, which trains producers, said the show’s presence on the Tony Awards on June 12 should lift ratings. He called Hamilton a boon to Broadway overall. “It has huge potential not only here but worldwide,” he said. “I’m expecting Hamilton will go on and on and on.” On Monday, Barack and Michelle Obama each sang its praises when the cast performed and spoke to students at the White House.
It’s grossed an average of $1.6 million weekly since the first preview in July 2015, suggesting ample weekly operating profits. Beginning on April 13, tens of thousands of New York City public school kids see it for $10 apiece, thanks to a subsidy by the Rockefeller Foundation and in effect the production itself, which receives only $70 per seat. On the other extreme, two months ago lead producer Jeffrey Seller released new $549 tickets, for November 2016 to January 2017. They’re the priciest in Broadway history. Scott Rudin set the previous record when he extended Death of a Salesman in 2012 with Philip Seymour Hoffman for as much as $499 apiece. (Arguably, The Producers‘ $480 seats in 2001 are still tops, which after inflation are $643 today.) Even at $570.20 inclusive of Ticketmaster fees, the new Hamilton seats were gobbled up, initially by American Express cardholders with first dibs.
In the runaway resale market, prime Hamilton seats are listed for as much as $4,000 on Ticketmaster, including fees, although a broker who spoke on condition of anonymity said they tend to go for closer to $2,000. “I don’t know how to solve the wonderful problem of a lot of people wanting to see our show,” composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also plays the title character, the nation’s first treasury secretary, said at a TimesTalk event. “You should write your congressman about resale tickets,” he added, without elaborating. New York state “anti-scalping” laws were repealed in 2007.
Group sales agents, who buy for churches, synagogues and schools, usually at a discount to face value, were shut out from the latest block. The show’s assistant company manager attributed it to the Amex pre-sale trumping expectations, according to an email obtained by Broadway Journal. “We’re aiming to be at the Rodgers for a long time, and hope to be able to take care of all of your clients in the future,” the assistant company manager wrote to group sales agents.
With its popularity surging, Hamilton at the moment doesn’t have much incentive to offer group sales tickets, which can wind up on the secondary market. Groups are an important but declining component of Broadway’s selling machine. According to the Broadway League, they accounted for 3.8 percent of tickets sold in 2014-15, down from 8.3 percent in 2008-09.
In October, Jeremy Gerard reported in Deadline.com that Hamilton returned a quarter of its capitalization to investors just five weeks after opening on Broadway.