NEW YORK – And the Tony Award for Best Box Office goes to ... "700 Sundays" (search).
Billy Crystal (search)'s hugely popular one-man show, which cost $1.8 million to put up, has grossed nearly $22 million, according to production sources.
That makes it by far the most successful show of the 2004-05 Broadway season, and one of the most successful non-musical shows of all time.
It took "700 Sundays," which opened Dec. 5, 2004, about four weeks to recoup its costs.
Since then, everything above the show's estimated weekly running cost of $250,000 has been pure profit.
Two veteran producers not associated with the show estimate its profit at $14 million.
Most of that goes to Crystal. Not only is he the star and co-writer, his wife is co-producer.
"I would think he's made at least $10 million," an industry source speculates.
Put another way, Crystal's weekly paycheck comes to about $500,000.
That makes him the highest paid performer in Broadway history. And it's not over yet. The show runs until June 12, and after two months off, Crystal is taking it on tour until the end of the year.
That should bring him another $10 million.
He's planning to bring the show back to Broadway early next year for a limited run.
In the meantime, if you want to catch the remaining, sold-out performances, brace yourself: Scalpers are getting $800 for an orchestra seat.
What other shows have managed to make a profit this season?
Despite blistering reviews, "Julius Caesar" recouped its $3 million production cost on May 22, a testament to the drawing power of its star, Denzel Washington.
Its producers estimate the show will make a profit of $1 million by the time it closes June 12.
"Doubt," which cost about $2 million, should recoup in two or three weeks, production sources say. It's selling about $125,000 worth of tickets a day, and should be on the boards for a long time.
That big money-maker "Spamalot (search)" should be able to recoup its $14 million production cost early next year.
By the time you add up all the money from Broadway and a forthcoming national tour and London production, "Spamalot" will make all the multimillionaries associated with it — Mike Nichols, Eric Idle, Bill Haber, Bob Boyett, Allan S. Gordon — even richer.
"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" should have no trouble making back its $3.5 million investment by the end of the year.
"Twelve Angry Men" was a box office bonanza for the Roundabout Theater Company.
The non-profit theater doesn't break out ticket sales for individual shows, but Todd Haimes, the Roundabout's artistic director, told me at the Drama Desk Awards last Sunday that "Twelve Angry Men" was the most successful non-musical in the theater's history. ("Cabaret" was the company's most successful production of all.)
What's the biggest loser of the season?
So far, the booby box-office prize goes to "Dracula," which lost $7 million.
It could, though, be eclipsed by the $10 million revival of "La Cage aux Folles," which is struggling at the box office.
And the jury's still out on the hugely expensive — some say about $15 million — "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," at the Hilton Theatre. Its weekly grosses are OK for now, but there's talk that Clear Channel, which owns the Hilton, is offering the theater to Disney, which is planning to move its long-running hit "The Lion King" out of the New Amsterdam Theater next year to make way for "Mary Poppins."