“Bonnie & Clyde”… by the numbers

With the recent news about Bonnie & Clyde not selling tickets past December 30th, one would assume that they are closing on December 30th. Even Telecharge.com, wrote and called their customers last week and said that Bonnie & Clyde was closing on December 30th. (You can read the full email that Telecharge sent, here.)

But interestingly enough, there has been no closing notice that has been posted.

The actors now are in limbo — is it closing? or is it staying open past December 30th? When all of this news broke last week, Jeremy Jordan (Clyde) tweeted, “There is no truth to Bonnie and Clyde closing on December 30th. We’re still fighting. It ain’t over til its over, folks. #bcforever

The New York Times reported on December 8th that the producer, Kathleen Raitt wanted to keep the show open but ticket sales were low. “We’re already seeing a groundswell of support on Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere, and we’re trying to get the word out there that people should come see the show soon,” she said. “If we see a huge groundswell of support, maybe we’ll be able to run longer. But we’re not rolling over and playing dead.”

Now, the actors are basically “pimping” out their show on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to get people to come see it. It’s not very different than when actors tell me to see their regional/community theatre production on Facebook. It’s almost a daily occurrence when all of your friends are connected to the theatre community. But, I’ve never seen it in the Broadway community.

I can understand why the actors want their show to stay open. It’s their job! No one wants to be laid off right after Christmas.

Tad Wilson, who is also in the show, tweets, “Want to support @BonnieClydeBway but not in the city? Buy tickets for any performance THIS WEEK in my name. I’ll pass them to people in need.” He continues, “Put your @BonnieClydeBway tickets in my name if you can’t use them. Many people can’t afford to see a show. Supporting 2 causes at once”. Is Broadway really becoming a charity case?

Other actors are getting in on the “Save Bonnie & Clyde” movement. Natalie Hill, a Broadway performer who was last seen in Wildhorn’s Wonderland last season, writes on her blog:

at this point, it is not closing but is not selling tickets past 12/30….
unless YOU help.
if they can pack the houses for the next two weeks and show that people want to see this show, the investors will keep it open.

WE can prove that critics don’t always get it right.
WE can choose what we want to see.
and WE can save hundreds of jobs for actors/stagehands/ushers/musicians.

Her point-of-view is very interesting and I want to support the movement, but I’m still not sure why I should. All of this information is very confusing to me. Why would a producer pull tickets, if they want the show to succeed?

The entire reason all of this started was because I wanted to buy 15 tickets for my students in February. After I had already paid for the tickets, Telecharge.com sent me the email stating it was closing and that they would be returning the money (minus the fees). That was $700.00 worth of tickets. It seems completely counterintuitive to the entire “movement” to return purchased tickets!

If the ticket sales are the only reason this started, then let’s look at Bonnie & Clyde’s numbers since they started previews back in November. (All stats are taken from Playbill.com’s weekly summaries.)

December 5th – 11th, 2011Gross: $404,289, $59.38 Average Ticket Price, 81.6% Capacity

November 28th – December 4th, 2011 – Gross: $341,908, $45.32 Average Ticket Price, 90.4% Capacity

November 21st – 27th, 2011 – Gross: $395,637, $60.17 Average Ticket Price, 78.8% Capacity

November 14th – 20th, 2011 – Gross: $346,744, $52.92 Average Ticket Price, 78.5% Capacity

November 6th – 13th, 2011 – Gross: $415,841, $56.83 Average Ticket Price, 87.7% Capacity

October 31st – November 6th, 2011 – Gross $265,147, $59.84 Average Ticket Price, 85.0% Capacity (Only 5 performances that week)

Since it started previews, Bonnie & Clyde’s numbers have stayed relatively the same — around a $400,000 in take each week. (I wonder what their weekly running costs are, as that would shed some light on the financial situation Bonnie & Clyde is in.) We will have to wait until next week to see if the “Save Bonnie & Clyde” campaign will positively affect their numbers, but overall, it’s doing much better than the other new Broadway musical this season, Lysistrata Jones, which had a $19.00 average ticket price last week. (Can we say, industry comps?)

This entire campaign/stunt/media blitz, is all very confusing to the Broadway community. Everyone is up in limbo, but no one knows why?

Was it the critics?

Or is the show just not good enough?

From what I’ve heard, (unfortunately I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment), it sounds like a pretty great show with some script issues. There are plenty of shows on Broadway that have played for months, even recouped, that have major script issues. So why can’t Bonnie & Clyde do the same thing?

What is your take? Are you going to help “save” Bonnie & Clyde and buy a ticket? Or do you think it’s a huge media blitz to fill houses before December 30th, their “non-posted” closing date.

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10 thoughts on ““Bonnie & Clyde”… by the numbers

  1. “Nice, puppy. Gimme yer $$ or I’m gonna shoot the damn dog dead”. A shakedown B&C gangster-style.

  2. I wouldn’t buy a ticket unless I could see it myself (mostly because if I had the money, I’d go to NY to see it anyway). But I don’t understand what all the craziness is about. I did notice that even though the seat are above 75% capacity, that the potential gross is hovering in the 40% area. Like you said, without knowing the potential weekly expense stuff, you can’t really tell what’s going on. I do think that some shows aren’t ever given a chance to succeed because producers are so afraid of losing money. Shows sometimes need time to build a following. And producers don’t seem to be patient enough to wait on the word of mouth to get around.

  3. I saw the show twice. It has it’s problems, but is pretty good. I enjoyed it. If the producers had put a penny into advertising before it started previews or now, maybe they wouldn’t be in this mess.
    I’ve no idea what their operating costs are, but their average ticket price is not the lowest on Bway & their grosses have not been horrible. Lyssie Jones’ avg price is under $20!
    I have friends in this cast & friends who are in love with this show. I think the producers are just jerking people around trying to get as much cash as they can out of it before announcing a closing. They didn’t get rave reviews and are “cutting their losses”. Otherwise, why refund advanced sales BEFORE posting a closing notice?
    It should be noted, 2 of it’s producers (2 that I know of, could be more) are producing other shows coming to Bway in the Spring. So they may have a financial reason to close this show if it’s not making what they consider to be enough profit each week. They may think they have a better chance with the other show. That could be my suspicious, cynical mind at work, but I think a good argument could be made to support this position.
    Bottom line: The producers of Bonnie & Clyde are jerking the cast & fans around and, no matter what happens, that doesn’t foster a good relationship for this or any of their future shows.

  4. The problem with a “Save Our Show” campaign, is: when does is end? Let’s say the show makes it past December 30. What about the next time things are looking bad? Will they launch another campaign in a month? In three months?

    And I definitely plan to see it, but I wouldn’t “donate” a ticket. Broadway is a commercial venture. In non-profit crisis fundraising (remember the Magic Theatre a couple years ago?), the artists appealed to the community because the producer (the theatre) didn’t have the money. But in this case, the producer already has money. They’re just choosing not to spend any more of it on the show. By suggesting that audience members can “donate” their ticket, the cast is asking people to give money that will only go towards minimizing the losses of someone’s bad investment.

  5. I was told recently that “Clear Day” was in the 650k a week range (Connick is getting 100k by himself). Godspell, in a smaller space, is in the 300 range. I would bet that the weekly budget, including marketing, is in the 450-500k per week range. This probably is more about the bad advance as it is soft sales.

    The “save our show” campaign is well intentioned, but will prove to be ineffective. People with enough disposable income to buy blocks of tickets for the less fortunate are the people who would have invested in the first place if they cared. The average patron can’t throw $150 at this, and you would need 10,000 people to do that to make a difference anyhow.

  6. I think the actors’ efforts are honorable. They are simply passionate about the show. While I don’t think it’s a great show, it has great moments. Most importantly, it didn’t desrve the virulent reviews it received. Sincerely, they were far worse than they should have been. BONNIE & CLYDE has a tremendous cast and a tremendous score, and it deserved better reviews.

  7. I feel really bad for the actors. They are being told that if their show sells well this week, they will stay open, and I don’t think that’s true. If the producers had any intention of staying open, why would they stop selling tickets past the 30th and also have to return money to ticketholders? If they actually do they think they can stay open this way, it’s a terrible strategy. I enjoyed Bonnie & Clyde and I’m sorry you probably won’t be able to take your students. What would you see instead?

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