Raking in the Broadway Cash with Wicked

By Jeff HoytFeaturesMoneyTips.com

When most people hear about numbers at the box office, they think of Hollywood and the movie industry. However, Broadway theater productions can rack up impressive numbers, with some shows crossing the billion-dollar plateau in worldwide box office receipts.

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Collectively, Broadway brought in a record $1.37 billion in revenue in the 2015-2016 season — not in the same league as the $10.3 billion that Hollywood movies brought in, but considering the far fewer venues for Broadway productions, the per-theater numbers are impressive.

Thanks to incredibly long runs that can last for a decade or more, successful Broadway shows can rack up box office grosses that would make the movie industry jealous. Include touring productions that hit other major metropolitan areas, and it is possible to surpass $1 billion over the life of a show.

Wicked has become one of the top grossing productions of all time, with no obvious end in sight. A "prequel" to The Wizard of OzWicked portrays the friendship of Elphaba, the green-skinned girl who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch. It opened in 2003 to mixed reviews, but received an emphatic two thumbs up from audiences. On Broadway alone, Wicked has grossed $1.04 billion, hitting the billion-dollar mark faster than any other show in history, breaking The Lion King's record in March this year.

The producers of Wicked created a new template for the corresponding touring production. When the tour reached Chicago and quickly sold out, the producers decided to stay there and create a completely different tour to complete the path where the first one left off. The original tour closed in March 2015, racking up $790 million.