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Disney Conquers Broadway

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Disney’s (NYSE: DIS) success on Broadway dates all the way back to 1994, when Beauty and the Beast dominated ticket sales. The musical rendition of the massively popular movie of the same name, Beauty and the Beast became a streaking financial goldmine, averaging $621k per week between 1994 and its closing year in 2007 according to Broadwayworld.com, which pulls its data from The Broadway League.

That exorbitant monetary draw of Beauty and the Beast was just the beginning of Disney’s tirade on Broadway. Since 1994 11 more productions have made it to Manhattan’s Theater District, with 2014’s Aladdin being the latest. Adaptations of Frozen, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Father of the Bride and Freaky Friday are also in preliminary stages to hit Broadway in the distant future.

Disney Theatrical Productions Limited, also known by the moniker Disney on Broadway, has become no stranger to undying success in New York City. The company has several productions listed on the Longest Running Broadway List produced by The Broadway League, with The Lion King closing in on the No. 3 position behind the historic production of Cats. Beauty and the Beast owns the No. 9 spot with 5,461 shows performed. Other notable productions include Mary Poppins at No. 22, Aida at No. 35 and Newsies at No. 101.

Aida, which ran on Broadway between March of 2000 and September of 2004, grossed just over $700k on average each week during its four-year stay at the Palace Theatre. Mary Poppins pooled $882k per week at the New Amsterdam Theatre during its stay from November 2006 to March 2013. Each pales in comparison to The Lion King’s numbers, however, which has grossed $1.27 million per week between its two homes at the New Amsterdam Theatre and Minskoff Theatre.

With financial gain still snowballing as it slaloms through its 22nd year of business, Disney Theatrical Productions will continue to bring more to the Great White Way in the coming years. In January 2014, CEO Bob Iger announced that the hit animated film Frozen would get the theater treatment and was in its early developmental stages. December of 2016 will welcome the premiere of Pinocchio at the National Royal Theatre. The Hunchback of Notre Dame received overwhelmingly positive reviews for its adaptation at the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey this past year, spurring speculation that a Broadway run could potentially gain traction.

Disney shareholders should keep an eye on the Disney Theatrical Productions division, and should be well-advised that the company is flirting with reaching even greater heights in the future. With a possible unveiling of a stage version of Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film of all-time, the company could be sitting on another hit based on a movie that has already grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

By Douglas A. McIntyre


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