“Beetlejuice” will play its final performance at the Winter Garden Theatre on June 6, 2020.
The closing announcement comes after the Shubert Organization invoked a stop clause, in which theater owners can force a show to vacate a theater if it falls below a certain grosses threshold for two consecutive weeks, according to members of the production. However, now that the musical has staged a turnaround in grosses, its producers are looking for other options to keep the show going.
“We’re waiting to see. We’re not saying closing, we’re saying vacating,” said Hal Luftig, a co-producer on “Beetlejuice.”
As the New York Times first reported, “Beetlejuice” fell below its stop clause last June and then received formal notice on Oct. 1 that the show would need to move out in June 2020. At issue was an incoming production, “The Music Man,” which has been reportedly booked into the theater for its run next year.
Press representatives for “The Music Man” said that the production would announce a theater in January.
While “Beetlejuice” had initially struggled at the box office, its grosses had picked up after a strong Tonys performance and growing word of mouth. And so, when producers received the formal notice in October, they looked at the jigsaw puzzle of Broadway theater availabilities for answers, according to Luftig.
One possibility was to have “The Music Man” take over the Shubert Theatre and to have “To Kill a Mockingbird,” its current occupant, move to another theater of suitable size, Luftig said. Both shows have Scott Rudin as a producer. But that option has not panned out.
“Beetlejuice” producers have also looked at moving their own show to another theater, but Luftig said that a move for the large and highly technical set would cost close to $4 million, which would weigh on the production’s investors.
“The problem with moving ‘Beetlejuice’ is that it was built and retrofit for the Winter Garden Theatre,” Luftig said.
And both options are hurt by the lack of overall theater availability on Broadway.
The Shubert Organization declined to comment on the reports, but said the theater owners would consider moving “Beetlejuice” to a different theater.
“If an appropriate theater becomes available, we would certainly talk about moving the show,” the organization said in a statement to Broadway News.
“The Music Man,” starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, had already begun selling tickets for the production, with the location listed as a “Shubert Theater.” It is slated to begin performances on Sept. 9, 2020 and open on Oct. 15, 2020.
As it awaits options, “Beetlejuice” has a national tour planned for the fall of 2021. The production also has reported a growing advance, and Luftig said it is well-sold in January and February, which are typically weaker months on Broadway.
Overall, grosses for “Beetlejuice” have recently been on an uptick, regularly surpassing $1 million, with its gross potential hovering between 80% to 90%. In the first week of December, the musical broke a box office record at the Winter Garden.
That’s a marked change from grosses early in its run, which began on March 28, when the musical was seeing between 50% to 60% of its gross potential.
“I have never seen anything like this. I have never seen a show turn itself around so drastically, miraculously and not by any slight-of-the-hand tricks,” Luftig said. “The word of mouth has been extraordinary.”
The musical was capitalized for up to $21 million, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Since the announcement Monday evening, which was followed by a tongue-in-check video from the production and tweets from cast members, Luftig said he has seen the community rally around the show. The hope is to finish the Winter Garden run strong, while looking out for other opportunities.
“I know everybody’s keeping their eyes wide open,” he said.