In a recent blog post, I sorted Broadway musicals from the year 2000-present into three categories: ‘Legit’, ‘Contemporary Musical Theatre’, and ‘Pop/Rock’. Admittedly, this project was somewhat subjective, but it did yield interesting objective results as well. For example, I can now confirm what many have suspected for years: there have been A LOT of jukebox musicals on Broadway over the past decade and a half. However, not all of these shows have been commercial hits. Below is a list of all 24(!) shows along with the number of performances each ran for. Note: If you would like to know the total monetary grosses for each of these shows, that information is available on The Broadway League website (they forbid reposting their data elsewhere).
- Mamma Mia! (2001; 5758 performances)
- Movin’ Out (2002; 1303 performances)
- The Look of Love (2003; 49 performances)*
- The Boy from Oz (2003; 364 performances)
- Good Vibrations (2005; 94 performances)
- All Shook Up (2005; 213 performances)
- Lennon (2005; 49 performances)
- Jersey Boys (2005; 4156 as of 11/15/15)
- Ring of Fire (2006; 57 performances)
- Hot Feet (2006; 97 performances)
- The Times They Are A-Changin’ (2006; 28 performances)
- Rock of Ages (2008; 2328 performances)
- American Idiot (2010; 422 performances)*
- Million Dollar Quartet (2010; 489 performances)
- Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles (2010; 300 performances)*
- Everyday Rapture (2010; 85 performances)*
- Baby It’s You! (2011; 148 performances)
- Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (2011; 526 performances)
- Motown: The Musical (2013; 738 performances)
- A Night with Janis Joplin (2013; 140 performances)
- Soul Doctor (2013; 66 performances)*
- Holler If Ya Hear Me (2014; 38 performances)
- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (2014; 770 performances as of 11/15/15)
- On Your Feet! (2015; 12 performances as of 11/15/15)
What conclusions can we draw from this limited data? Perhaps most importantly: Jukebox musicals are not guaranteed to be commercial successes on Broadway. Out of the 24 shows above, fourteen ran for more than 100 performances, and seven ran for more than 500. However, nine shows failed to reach triple-digits at all, and only four succeeded in breaking 1,000 performances (Mamma Mia!, Movin’ Out, Jersey Boys, and Rock of Ages). Beautiful: The Carole King Musical could join their ranks, and On Your Feet! is simply too new to analyze.
Each of the Broadway shows above have had unique development and production histories, so it is difficult to say why certain shows have been successful and others have flopped. In fact, there are any number of reasons why some of these shows could have closed quickly: funding and investment issues, lackluster ticket sales, limited engagements, creative/artistic disagreements, marketing blunders, negative reviews, etc. For now, I will leave you with the data above to draw your own conclusions about the current state of Broadway jukebox musicals.
* The ‘jukebox musical’ distinction is somewhat debatable for this show.