EXCLUSIVE: With advance ticket sales now in the $40 million range — a figure comparable to The Book Of Mormon and the opening of Miss Saigon in 1991 — and tickets harder to come by than a kind word for Trevor Noah, the Hamilton money machine churns on. Production sources tell Deadline that just five weeks after its August 6 opening night at the Nederlander Organization’s Richard Rodgers Theatre, the rap-heavy musical biography of the first Secretary of the Treasury had returned to investors one-quarter of its $12.5 million capitalization. The Book Of Mormon began previews in February 2011 and recouped its $11.4 million costs eight months later.
“If you have a major hit, you might expect 10 percent in that short a time,” says a Hamilton investor. “Twenty-five percent is really unheard of.”
The $12.5 million figure for Hamilton includes the $1.9 million that the lead producers spent underwriting the show’s tryout production last spring at the Public Theater, according to documents obtained by Deadline under New York State’s Freedom Of information Law (FOIL). Sam Rudy, the spokesman for the show, said the producers had no comment about the figures.
“That’s an incredible achievement,” one investor, who was not authorized to speak for the production, told Deadline. “If you have a major hit, you might expect 10 percent in that short a time. Twenty-five percent is really unheard of.” The figures also reveal how careful management on Broadway can result in ever-greater returns to investors. Hamilton has regularly exceeded 110 percent of its $1.33 million gross potential at the Rodgers. Last week, the show reported sales of $1,678,091, or nearly 26 percent above potential. By comparison, plenty of shows that appear on paper to be doing well on Broadway can take years to return investor financing, if they do at all; more than three-quarters of all Broadway shows fail. Already this season, the $16 million musical Amazing Grace announced its upcoming closing on October 25 after three money-losing months.
The drumbeat for Hamilton began before its opening last spring at the Public. Those who had seen pieces of the show, originally called Hamilton Mixtape, talked it up as a game changer that used rap music to tell the story, based on Ron Chernow’s biography, of the Founding Father who was born in poverty in West Indies, studied law in New York, became George Washington’s chief aide-de-camp during the American Revolution and later centralized the young nation’s economy as first Secretary of the Treasury. The show is by, and stars, In The Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Among the musical’s early fans were President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, for whom Miranda performed an early version of the opening number at the White House. Indeed, having already seen it on Broadway — the First Couple given a rightful pass on waiting months for tickets — they will be seeing it again on November 2 at a performance completely bought out by the Democratic National Committee and Obama For America to raise money for both the ongoing presidential campaign and to help pay off the President’s campaign debt. Among the Broadway supporters behind the performance are Hamilton lead producers Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs and Jill Furman, as well as Disney Theatricals chief Thomas Schumacher and financial adviser and longtime Democratic activist Andrew Tobias. Tickets for that performance might be called Super Premium: They top out at $10,000 for a pair of orchestra seats and a photo op with the Fan In Chief.