Unlike Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton,' Tony Awards Do Not Always Guarantee Ticket Sales
The Tony Awards are an obvious help in providing interest to new Broadway shows. Actually, the awards themselves can be a big deal for both the show and the fans as it is a constant topic of conversation throughout the year. And in that conversation is, undoubtedly, Lin-Manuel Miranda and his smash Hamilton.
Hamilton officially opened this year to grand reception and is speculated to take home the most Tony Awards next. It is obvious that the shows that win Tonys, or any credible award for that matter, tend to do very well in the long run. As is with other institution-voted awards, there are four main Tony Award categories that Broadway critics, and fans, view as the top tier.--which include Best Musical, Best Play, Best Revival of a Musical and Best Revival of a Play.
Originally the latter two were combined into one Best Revival category, but were separated into two in the late 1990s. These four categories resemble the best of the best that Broadway has to offer that season, and if a theatergoer hasn't seen it by then, it will certainly be on their must-see list for after.
The Best Musical winner of this past year that had everyone talking was the hit musical Fun Home, a dark and depressing musical about a girl named Alison, who figures out she is gay while at the same time her father is battling his own homosexual desires. According to Broadway World's weekly gross updates, Fun Home has done well at the box office, passing its gross potential by more than $20k. The show had a decent size gross spike (up by $63k from the week prior) the first week after the Tony's, and continued to slowly increase.
Earlier this year, in the week ending on 7/12, Fun Home for the first time since its opening has had its highest average ticket price now at $127, and it began at $77. The show grossed a little over $783k this past week (the week of July 12th).
Thats nothing, however, compared to other shows like The Book of Mormon, which also won Best Musical in 2011. The Book of Mormon once grossed over $1.45 million in a single week. Mormon is a top standard for Broadway, bringing high demand on the secondary market. Four years since its debut, Book of Mormon tickets are some of the most expensive on Broadway with a $323.72 average on the secondary market, according to TiqIQ. Eventually, though, each Tony-winning Best Show of some kind does lose money over time. Usually by that point they close on Broadway and move the show on a tour, off-Broadway (like Avenue Q had done) or to the West End, then come back after around eight years for a revival.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which is also still currently running, won the Tony for Best Musical in 2014, and has done well for itself too, but has seen its box office numbers drop. It is still grossing less than Fun Home, as of this past week, at slightly over $489k. Gentleman's Guide tickets have an average price of $240.07 on the secondary market.
However, musicals aren't the only shows that do well after the Tonys, but they tend to stay on longer than the plays that win. There are also more musicals currently on Broadway than there are plays. Why? They do better overall than plays do, especially after the Tonys.
Yes, there are exceptions of course, like The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-Time has been on for almost a year now and it still is doing well, but its gross has gone down since winning the Tony. The show was grossing, just after the Tonys aired, on average between $800k and $900k and is now at just under $900k in gross per week.
It is still a high draw on the secondary market, as Curious Incident tickets on TiqIQ have an average price of $280.74. While the full impact of the Tony Awards had to do with that jump is up for debate, but it is no question the show's popularity did increase after winning the Award for Best Play this year.
But one must remember sometimes winning Best Musical, or any Tony Award, doesn't always guarantee the show will be on forever. The people who decide Best Musical are not the public, it's a group of judges. And some performances are even weary to allow those judges to interfere with ticket sales during the season--Hamilton, for example, was hyper-reticent to jeopardize sales simply for the luxury of a Tony judge (and that really upset the academy as a whole).
While being nominated for any one of the four main categories is an honor in and of itself, the public ultimately decides how well the show does because they are the ones buying the tickets. Luckily for many of the shows, ticket buying does spike after the biggest awards are handed out every June, though nothing is guaranteed even for the biggest winners.
And with that notion, preview Tony Award shoe in Hamilton below while you await the next awards ceremony.