The New Economy of Charlie Sheen

Steve Brodner

Bankrolling his own tour, the actor will have to work hard to replace his huge “Men” salary.

Charlie Sheen is officially a touring act. So how much can the Charlie Sheen Live: My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option tour hope to earn the former Two and a Half Men star?

His first engagements in Detroit and Chicago sold out on in a record-breaking 18 minutes. (Six additional dates were announced March 15, including a gig at the 6,000-seat capacity Radio City Music Hall in New York.) Sheen will pocket about $300,000 for the first two shows, sources say.

Like Kevin Smith and Conan O’Brien, whose tours drew thousands to small and midrange theaters, Sheen is opting to “four-wall” his trek: He’ll rent the venues and absorb production costs with no marketing expenditures and keep what’s left over. Using conservative estimates (50 percent of gross ticket receipts), Sheen would have to sell 50,000 tickets at $50 (Ticketmaster listed prices at $35-$70) to reach the $1.2 million he made per Men episode.

In venues similar in size to those he has been booking (capacity at the Chicago Theatre, for instance, is 3,600), Sheen could pocket a healthy $150,000 per show, a touring source estimates — meaning it would take him about 10 performances to make up for the $1.2 million salary. Of course, production costs would have to be subtracted, but Sheen’s seem to be minimal. “What’s his risk if he doesn’t have any production but himself?” one music executive asks.

For a smaller act, a promoter would typically take as much as 30-50 percent of gross ticket sales, and an agent would want another 10 percent. More popular acts get a better deal. For comparison’s sake, if Sheen were on the level of a Lady Gaga, performing at large venues like New York’s Madison Square Garden, that would net him about $800,000 for a sellout. Factor in the 10 percent that a major act would pay a promoter, along with the agent’s cut, and Sheen could still come close to his Men payday for a weekend’s worth of work. But Adonis DNA aside, he’s no Gaga. It’s unlikely the venues, if and when they are announced, will get much bigger. And as of press time, nearly half of the tickets for his first stops were available for resale on StubHub, ranging from $50-$125.

Sheen could make even more money selling T-shirts and such to his wannabe Warlocks, a task he’s entrusted to Live Nation’s FEA unit. And though the actor has not announced plans to enter the personal-appearance business, one talent wrangler speculates Sheen could rake in $50,000-$75,000 just to show up at events in such cities as Las Vegas and Miami.