Arts & Culture

The most expensive Broadway shows ever produced

Bright lights, big bank accounts! The production of a Broadway show is no small undertaking. It requires plenty of hard work, rehearsal ... and in most cases, oodles of cash.

But some Broadway productions have cost investors more than others. Have the results always been positive? Not necessarily. Some of the most expensive Broadway shows ever produced may surprise you:

'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'

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Why not cash in on the popularity of the Spider-Man franchise with a musical? The hopes were high for this project. Bono, the U2 frontman, was even brought on to do the music and lyrics.

Unfortunately, investors didn’t listen to the tingling of their Spidey senses when they plunked down their cash. This rock musical, which was released in 2011, cost an unheard-of $75 million to produce, and it failed to meet expectations. They gave it the ol’ college try. It ran for a few years but failed to deliver on the investment, eventually closing in 2014 with a reported loss of $60 million. Oh, what a tangled web!

'King Kong'

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Care to see a Broadway show with a star that weighs over a ton? “King Kong” is just the show for you. Unfortunately, a ginormous 20-foot puppet doesn’t come cheap. The show, which follows the story line of the original movie, cost $35 million to produce.

In spite of the praise for its impressive visuals, the actual reviews for the show have ranged from lackluster to quite negative. Nonetheless, the show remains in production.

'Shrek: The Musical'

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As an animated character, Shrek was a huge hit, inspiring sequels and spinoffs from the original movie. And in 2008, a Broadway musical was added to the Shrek franchise. It was a big investment. The show cost $25 million to produce.

Unfortunately, “Shrek” proved unable to cross over from film to stage. The crowds did not come, and the show did not earn enough to recoup losses for the investors.

'The Lion King'

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As a Broadway musical, “The Lion King,” which is based on the Disney movie of the same name, is a work of pure visual wizardry. It has an extremely impressive, elaborate stage setup, gorgeous costumes, and, of course, a killer musical lineup.

When it opened in 1997, it was one of the most expensive musicals ever produced. But the investment paid off. The show is still in production and has even surpassed “Phantom of the Opera” in terms of sales.

At the time of this writing, the Broadway show has made about $1.6 billion.

'Spongebob Squarepants'

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Did you miss the Broadway version of the popular children’s TV show? You’re not the only one.

In spite of the fact that it took $18 million to produce and bring this show to the stage, it didn’t last long. As it turns out, the adventures of the crew from Bikini Bottom weren’t bound for Broadway success.

In spite of some good reviews, the show closed in less than a year, after 327 performances and 29 previews. The official reason it closed? The Palace Theater was going to be renovated. Many believe that it was not moved to another theater due to disappointing ticket sales.

Give my regards to Broadway...

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You win some, you lose some. Producing a show for the “Great White Way” is an expensive prospect, and it’s not without its fair share of risk. Unfortunately for investors, lots of money going into a Broadway show doesn’t always guarantee success.