Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Follies Closes at a Loss

The Broadway revival of Follies was, by many measures, a resounding success. Critics and audiences alike had very positive things to say about the show (the word rave might be appropriate here) and the show has been a hot ticket for months (producers have stated that over 216,000 people have seen this production). The show closed after Sunday's performance and, five-and-a-half months after it opened, the show did not turn a profit according to Michael Kaiser, one of the lead producers of Follies who is also president of the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, where this production originated.

This will not be the first time Follies has lost money. The original Broadway production in 1971 was also a critical darling but a financial flop, and a 2001 revival had a short-lived, critically panned run.

Mr. Kaiser said to the Huffington Post that the production did better financially than he had planned. In that article, titled The Lesson of Follies, he continued:

“It also brought more visibility to the Kennedy Center than any other single production in the Center’s history. Time will tell if this visibility contributes to the fiscal health of the Kennedy Center. But for me, ‘Follies’ is representative of the large-scale, ambitious, risky project that arts organizations need to produce if they are to capture the imagination of new and diverse funders and audience members. It also demonstrates the benefits of long-term artistic planning. We decided to produce ‘Follies’ in 2006 — a full five years before the production was mounted at the Kennedy Center. This gave us the time needed to assemble an artistic team and a cast. It also gave us time to find a group of donors who would support this large, expensive project.”

According to Patrick Healy of the New York Times, "Mr. Kaiser did not disclose the cost of capitalizing “Follies,” but a spokesman said it was $5.5 million. The Broadway production grossed a total of $19.6 million over about 24 weeks of performances, according to the Broadway League database of box office receipts; the revival’s average weekly gross was about $815,000, while the weekly running costs for the show were about $600,000."

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