Weak ticket sales may soon force the closure of Shrek the Musical, Dreamworks’ enormously expensive stage adaptation of their 2001 hit animated children’s movie about an ugly ogre and his love for a beautiful princess.
The show, which just opened in New York on December 14, once seemed as close to a sure bet on Broadway as possible. The original movie was a huge critical and commercial hit, spawning two successful sequels. The Broadway production had a sky-high budget of $24 million and stars theater veteran Sutton Foster.
The poor economy, combined with the show’s mixed reviews (see our review) have sent Shrek the Musical’s weekly revenues plunging from a high of $1.27 million in early January to less than half that two weeks ago. The show has been playing to half-empty houses, shocking New York’s theater community.
But it isn’t simply a question of the economy. Disney’s adaptation of their own animated children’s movie The Little Mermaid, which opened to horrendous reviews just over a year ago, is still playing to near-capacity houses.
Poor word-of-mouth and high ticket prices, typically over a hundred dollars each, are blamed for Shrek’s failure to date. According to Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, the producers are said to be mulling over options to try to save the show, including moving the time of the show an hour earlier on weeknights, to 7 PM, to better accommodate a family audience.
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