Though the Jersey Boys movie hasn’t done well in theaters (so far it has grossed $56.6 million worldwide on a $40 million budget), in the past even poor performing movie adaptations of musicals that were currently on Broadway — such as the disastrous box office of the 2012 Rock of Ages movie — have still boosted the ticket sales of the Broadway musicals. In May I analyzed this “movie effect” and speculated how the Jersey Boys movie would affect the ticket sales of the Broadway musical.
In the past dozen years, six film adaptations of musicals that were running on Broadway at the same time — Chicago (2002), The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Rent (2005), Hairspray (2007), Mamma Mia! (2007), and Rock of Ages (2012) — led to increased ticket sales for the Broadway productions in the four weeks preceding the movie’s release, the week of the movie’s release, and the four weeks after compared to the same nine-week period the prior year. The only Broadway show in that time period that did not increase Broadway business in that same nine-week period around the movie release was The Producers (2005). The increases in average gross ranged from 8% (Mamma Mia!) to over 40% (Rent and Rock of Ages), whereas Broadway’s The Producers saw an average 10.39% decrease in gross in the nine weeks surrounding the December 2005 movie release compared to the same period the previous year (all box office data comes from The Broadway League).
As it turns out, Jersey Boys is like The Producers in the sense that it is the exception rather than the rule — but not by much. Both the average weekly gross and the average attendance for Jersey Boys are about five percent lower over the same nine-week period from last year to this year. The average weekly gross for the nine-week period last year was $869,828, while for this year’s period it was $824,000. Attendance dropped from an average 89.17% capacity during last year’s period to 84.79% during this year’s period. However, average ticket prices barely saw any change. From late May to late July 2013, the average price paid for a ticket to see Jersey Boys was $99.29. From late May to late July 2014, the average ticket price was $98.89. That drop of only 40 cents is about as rock-solid sales figures as it gets on Broadway over any 365 day period.
One factor that might have contributed to the slight decrease in gross compared to last year is that the Tony Award-winning actor who originated Frankie Valli on Broadway, John Lloyd Young (who also starred in the movie version), was at the end of a highly-publicized five-month return engagement as Valli on Broadway in summer 2013. On the occasions that Young has returned to the Broadway musical, the production has made an increased publicity push and stronger ticket sales. Still, the fact that the musical did comparable numbers this year without its biggest name is actually a very strong sign for the current and future business of Broadway’s Jersey Boys.
Despite the dip in gross, The Producers still ran another fourteen months on Broadway after the film’s adaptation’s release. Jersey Boys‘ slighter box office decrease shouldn’t indicate that the production is in any kind of trouble, especially with its consistently strong ticket sales over the past several years.
While the Broadway production of Jersey Boys hasn’t seen a business boost compared to last year, USA Today reported last week that ticket sales for the production at Paris Las Vegas have increased since the movie’s release. In addition to the soundtrack entering the Top 10 at Amazon.com, the original music of the Four Seasons saw dynamic increases in sales on both Amazon.com and iTunes, with the compilation album The Very Best of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons even hitting #1 on the Amazon.com album charts. Warner Bros. also likely expects that the movie will have strong DVD and Blu-ray sales for the segment of the older-skewing audiences that tends to avoid theaters (Jersey Boys will be released on home media in late 2014), which will possibly make the movie’s box office earnings less disappointing.
So while the Jersey Boys movie didn’t have a Rent or Rock of Ages movie effect on Broadway sales, the August Wilson Theatre won’t be vacant anytime soon. Long after the Jersey Boys movie is on DVD you’ll still have the choice of seeing the musical on Broadway, too.