Bradley Cooper Joins the Broadway Hitmakers' Club

Joan Marcus
Bradley Cooper in 'The Elephant Man'

The actor's star turn has propelled the revival of 'The Elephant Man' to profit in less than two months, following another record-breaking week at the box office

It's official: Bradley Cooper has joined the elite club of actors whose name on a Broadway marquee is a virtual guarantee of a quick hit, alongside such stars as Hugh Jackman, Tom Hanks, Julia RobertsDenzel Washington and Daniel Craig.

Cooper's longtime passion project, The Elephant Man, has recouped its $3.1 million capitalization just six-and-a-half weeks after performances of the revival began at the Booth Theatre.

The Bernard Pomerance play, which also stars Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola, broke the house record for the third time over Christmas week, grossing $1,058,547. That brings the drama's cumulative total through Dec. 28 to $7.1 million.

Cooper's latest film, American Sniper, also did huge business at the box office over the holidays, yielding the biggest opening of all time for a limited Christmas release. The Clint Eastwood-directed war drama expands nationwide on Jan. 16.

The Elephant Man has been playing to 100 percent capacity houses since previews began on Nov. 7. It officially opened to warm reviews on Dec. 7 and is scheduled to run in a limited engagement through Feb. 22. The Booth is among Broadway's smaller venues, with just 774 seats, making the swift recoupment all the more impressive. The production is the first show to gross over $1 million in a single week at that address, suggesting a high volume of premium ticket sales.

Read more 'The Elephant Man': Theater Review

Cooper's long attachment to the real-life role of Joseph Merrick, the tragically deformed outcast embraced by Victorian English society after a harrowing youth, began when he saw the David Lynch film of the same name at age 12.

He first performed the title role in Pomerance's play as his Actors Studio master's thesis project and then appeared at the 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival in a full production directed by Scott Ellis. While it was delayed to fit with Cooper's film schedule, that staging transferred to Broadway largely intact.

The 2014-15 theater season is shaping up to be a lucrative one for star-driven plays on Broadway. Sunday's announcement that The Elephant Man is in the black follows similarly rapid recoupment for the theater-biz comedy It's Only a Play, headlined by Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane; and The River, the enigmatic drama starring Jackman as a lovelorn fisherman.

The season has also chalked up another early hit with The Illusionists — Witness the Impossible, a limited holiday engagement showcasing the acts of seven master magicians, which has been doing stellar business at the Marquis Theatre. That touring show recouped its $1.75 million investment in just over three weeks. It also set a new house record at the Marquis during Christmas week, grossing north of $1.8 million.

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