Sue Mengers Play Proves Good Bette For Investors; Why Doesn’t Hollywood Report When Movies Turn Profitable?

The producers of I’ll Eat You Last, the John Logan-penned play that stars Bette Midler as superagent Sue Mengers, has recouped its $2.4 million investment in just over eight weeks at the Booth Theatre. The show has another month in which to turn a profit, as the run ends June 30. It’s a Broadway tradition for shows to crow when they’ve recovered their costs and turn a profit. Why don’t movies do the same thing? Oh, I know why. When studio tentpoles cost up to $200 million with another $125 million-$150 million to launch them globally, a lot of these big-ticket items probably never cover costs and we only hear about them when the studio declares a writedown in earnings reports. It’s a slipperier slope when the movies do fantastically well. I was the guy who published the net profit statement on Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, the 2007 Warner Bros sequel that grossed $938.2 million worldwide. Despite that, the accounting statement below conveys that the film is still over $167 million in the red. So I guess we’ll forget about Hollywood following that Broadway tradition of reporting when movies recoup their costs and turn a profit. Even if studios do cover their ballooning costs and make some cash, they would be the last to admit it. And it’s the reason Mengers and cohorts swung the business toward first dollar gross; they just couldn’t get an accurate accounting from studio bean counters.

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