'Book of Mormon' Recoups Cost After Just Eight Months

UPDATED: The budget for the Trey Parker and Matt Stone-penned musical, which opened in March, was $11.4 million.
"The Book of Mormon"
Joan Marcus

NEW YORK – The producing team behind The Book of Mormon announced today that the Tony-winning smash Broadway musical has recouped its capitalization of $11.4 million in just eight months.

Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone with Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez, the profane buddy comedy about two clueless Mormon missionaries sent to a Ugandan village has been a hot-ticket since it opened in March to stellar reviews. That hit status was further cemented in June when it took home nine Tony Awards, including best musical, score, book, direction and featured actress.

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The show has broken weekly house records at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre 22 times since opening, with grosses for Thanksgiving week hitting $1.678 million. The average ticket price last week of $170.42 was the highest on Broadway, which indicates a large number of premium seats being sold.

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The show’s cumulative gross to date has passed $44 million, pumped by dynamic pricing, which spikes on high-demand weekend and holiday dates. Unofficial reports peg the show’s advance sales at close to $40 million.

“We’re very gratified by the response to our show and look forward to welcoming theatre-goers to the O’Neill for many years to come,” commented the producers. That team is led by South Park exec producer Anne Garefino and Scott Rudin, who has worked with Parker and Stone on their feature films South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Team America: World Police.

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Recoupment rates for Broadway musicals can vary widely according to budget and weekly running costs, but any show that returns its initial investment in under a year invariably does so by playing consistently to sold-out houses. Some shows can play two years or more without recouping.

In recent years, the 2009 revival of Hair recouped its $5.76 million investment in less than six months, while Spring Awakening recouped its $6 million capitalization after eight months on the boards in 2007. Despite sell-out business in one of Broadway’s largest theaters, the bigger-budget Wicked took 14 months to return its $14 million investment in 2004. That show continues to be Broadway’s top earner.

While there has been speculation about a Book of Mormon movie in the works, Parker and Stone have clarified that they are not actively developing a feature project based on the musical at this time.

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