Bloomberg News

Tom Hanks Guaranteed $75,000 a Week in Broadway Debut

February 06, 2013

Nora Ephron

Author Nora Ephron, the late author of "Lucky Guy," starring Tom Hanks. The play begins previews on Broadway on March 1. Photographer: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images via Bloomberg

Even after he leaves “Lucky Guy” on Broadway, Tom Hanks stands to earn as much as $20,000 a week.

For his Broadway debut, Hanks, 56, will get 2 percent of ticket sales should producers extend the run and recast his role as New York tabloid reporter Mike McAlary, according to the show’s operating agreement.

Hanks’s in-absentia pay continues as long as the show runs on Broadway.

Previews for Nora Ephron’s play begin March 1 at the Broadhurst Theatre. Hanks, who has committed to perform for 15 weeks, will earn 12.5 percent of the weekly box office, with a $75,000 minimum. His weekly take could reach $150,000 if the show sells out.

“Lucky Guy” is about police reporters and editors from 1985 to 1998, when McAlary died, at 41, of colon cancer. That year, McAlary won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Abner Louima police-abuse case. He is survived by four children and his wife, Alice McAlary (played in the show by Maura Tierney, of “The Good Wife”).

Hanks’s pay is in line with that of other A-list actors appearing on Broadway. They attract customers willing to pay top dollar for tickets. But the high salary can undermine investors’ chances to make money.

Fluctuating Price

“He’s a huge star, virtually as big as they come,” said Steven Baruch, a theatrical producer who isn’t involved with the show. “It all depends on premium pricing. If people pay enough for the seats, the margins may not be so thin.”

Ticket prices for “Lucky Guy” currently top out at $350, according to Telecharge.com. They may go up or down, depending on the availability of tickets during the limited run.

The Lucky Guy Broadway LLC operating agreement was obtained from the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman via a Freedom of Information Law request.

The Sept. 28, 2012, agreement states that the show’s finances may change, though significant revisions are rare. Jim Byk, a spokesman for lead producers Colin Callender, Arielle Madover and Roy Furman, declined to comment.

The show was capitalized at $3.2 million to $3.6 million. For the investors to break even after 15 weeks, “Lucky Guy” must fill about 80 percent of the theater’s approximately 1,200 seats and average ticket sales of $810,000 to $873,000 weekly.

Limited Experience

Hanks’s stage experience is limited. As a teenager, he worked for three seasons at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, where he built and moved sets and did some acting.

A check of Telecharge.com shows that tickets appear to be selling briskly, with the best seats hard to find. Hanks earns $19 for every $152 orchestra ticket sold. If the show pays back investors plus 15 percent, his take rises to 15 percent of box office, with a $100,000 weekly guarantee. (Box office sales in this story omit credit card commissions.)

Hanks also earns an undisclosed cut of profits. For his recent “Glengarry Glen Ross” revival, Al Pacino was guaranteed $125,000 a week plus 5 percent of profits.

For “star expenses,” the “Lucky Guy” production set aside a lump-sum $12,000, plus $3,500 a week. Hanks gets a car and driver and a flexible schedule.

“Hanks may require certain time off from performances for promoting other interests, or for personal matters,” the operating agreement said.

New Deal

Stars requesting a percentage of the box office when they leave is new, said Emanuel Azenberg, a veteran Broadway producer.

“It’s unusual but not unheard of, and certainly not unasked for,” Azenberg said. “If you don’t have Tom Hanks or you don’t have a star, plays don’t get done anymore.” Azenberg added that producers of new plays are seldom able to replace one star with another, who would be inviting comparison to the originator of a role.

The “Glengarry” revival was profitable and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with Scarlett Johansson is on track to recoup by a whisker. “The Heiress” with Jessica Chastain recoups this week, its producers said. Last season’s “Evita” with Ricky Martin closed in January at a loss.

Muse highlights include and hot art and Ryan Sutton on restaurants.

To contact the reporter of this story: Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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