According to Cameron Mackintosh, most people seriously underestimate the economy of musical theater. For example, “Avatar”, the highest grossing movie in Hollywood history has grossed $2.9 billion — less than half the phantom of the Opera
Photo: WILLIAM WEST / AFP
9 October marked 30 years of the musical “the phantom of the Opera”. It is the most successful entertainment project of all time with charges of $6 billion And his producer Cameron Mackintosh is the only person who earned a billion on theatre
A week after the 30th anniversary of the highest-grossing musical, “the phantom of the Opera”, 70 turns of the person because of whom this show has become a legend — the Cameron Mackintosh, the most successful British theatrical producer in the West End and around the world.
On account of the Mac, whose career began with a series of high-profile failures, staging more than 30 successful musicals, including “Miss Saigon”, “My fair lady”, “Hair”, “Mary Poppins,” “the witches of Eastwick” and others. Two of the musical is “Cats” and “Les Miserables” — has collected more than $10 billion.
In March 2016 Forbes magazine first brought the Macintosh to the list of the richest businessmen in the world, estimating his fortune at $1.2 billion And is the only representative of the theatrical market in this list.
Theatre since childhood
Cameron Anthony Mackintosh born 17 October 1946 in London. He was the eldest of three sons. His father, an Englishman with Scottish roots, Ian McIntosh, traded in timber, and in his spare time played the trumpet in the group of “Troglodytes” under the pseudonym spike. Mother Mac, Diana, British Maltese, French and Italian roots, she worked as a Secretary.
The future Cameron has identified his two aunts: when the boy was eight years old, they took him to the Julian Slade musical “the Days of youth.” The boy had never seen the musical and didn’t want to go, but the result was amazed. “When it was my birthday, my aunts and my mom asked me what I would like to receive a gift. I ask you to take me to “the Days of his youth,” once,” recalled McIntosh 62 years later in an interview with Times (FT). Being under the impression of the show, Cameron founded his own theatre — puppet for which he wrote the script.
After school, Mac was admitted to the Central drama school in London, but higher education has not received: the school was given a lot of time the history of the theatre, and Cameron wanted to focus on practice.
When he turned 18, he got a job as a worker of a scene in the play “Camelot” for seven pounds in a week. The same amount he received for cleaning the hall after the performance. “I started from the bottom — after the war, I had nothing. I had a loving family, I went to a good middle school (closed private secondary school for boys Prior Park College in bath, Somerset). So, if you compare with many families, I was very wealthy, but I had to take £10 here, £20 is there,” he shared memories in an interview with the FT.
At this time Cameron made friends with one of the authors of Camelot librettist Alan Jay Lerner. When the Mac was 22, he worked on a marketing campaign for the rock Opera “Hair”, invented a new method of audience engagement: he proposed to sell a ticket to the show along with the train ticket.
A series of failures
The first show, Mac decided to produce was the Cole porter musical “anything’s fine” (Anything Goes). The premiere took place in 1969 in the theater, “Kenton”, but the production failed and was closed. Failure was also the second show is a theatrical version of the popular radio show “Valley” (the Dales), which premiered in 1970. “After “All” I have a debt of £40 million, after the “Valleys” of £10 thousand And the show “Cologne” (After Shave) (…) turned into a complete disaster,” recalled it in an interview with the Guardian.
The young producer was able to pay off the debts due to the modest way of life. “I lived on two to three pounds a day, learn to cook,” he said. Even after earning hundreds of millions, McIntosh did not change the habit of saving. “Wish I could afford a private jet. But if I make the short flight to Scotland for example, or on the continent, I [use] low-cost airline. I also ride the subway. First, to move around London by public transport is often more convenient than by taxi]. And secondly, it is important for me to know what for people £50-60, which they give to watch my shows. I understand that the people, through which I made my fortune, have to carefully monitor their spending and want to get the services of proper quality”, — he explained to the publication.
A series of success
After a series of failures, the Macintosh changed the approach to the productions. He refused the renewal of old musicals and concentrated on producing new. The first musical “the Card” (the Card), released in 1973, remained on the scene only six months. But the second — a musical Stephen Sondheim “side by Side” (Side By Side), released in 1976, brought great success. Production stood 781 presentation and brought in £100 million, despite the fact that investment in the project amounted to only £6 million In 1977 he published another successful production resumed the musical “Oliver!” Lionel Bart based on the Charles Dickens novel “Oliver Twist”. Mackintosh acquired 50% of the rights to the show. As the FT notes, the deal earned him hundreds of millions of pounds of dividends.
The Phenomenon Of “Cats”
The turning point in the life of the Mac began meeting in 1978 with the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. By the time the musician was already famous by the musicals “Jesus Christ superstar” and “Evita”. At the award ceremony of the Council of the theatres of the West End, which recognized the “Evita” the best musical of the year, McIntosh was involved in organizing the awards ceremony. Should have been his Aria “don’t cry for me, Argentina”. Cameron was faced with technical difficulties, and Webber didn’t like the sound of his music, what he said to Mac. As a result, between them, almost a fight broke out.
This episode did not prevent Webber to call the Macintosh in the 1980’s and offer him to discuss the idea of a musical based on the poem of Thomas Eliot Sterns “Popular science about cats written by an old opossum”.
Webber offered to put the dance musical, whereas in the UK, the musicals were a plays, where the actors sang, and only a few could simultaneously sing and dance. “The idea that the UK can put up a musical, was quite ridiculous, but the idea to do a dance musical was utter madness. It was only doing the Americans,” recalled 69-year-old Mac in an interview with Finanical Times.
When Mackintosh and Webber was looking for money for the performance, they could not imagine that “Cats” will be released worldwide, the song Memory (“Memory”) will become immortal hit, and they will become multimillionaires. They did not believe investors. “Half of the world’s population loves cats, and as many hate them. And I’m very happy to play for half of the world,” said Webber producers of Warner Brothers. But they are not impressed: “They told me I was crazy.”
Production costs were estimated at £450 thousand Mackintosh and Webber has collected only half the amount which the latter had to take a loan for £75 million “All around were convinced that the Cats fail miserably. But we must risk it!” recalled McIntosh in an interview with Forbes in 2016.
May 11, 1981, the day of the London premiere, he and Webber have experienced a real shock when someone from the audience at the end of the first act, shouted “suck” (rubbish). Later it turned out that the audience was drunk and the comment belonged to the scenery (a different value rubbish — trash). In order to overcome the excitement, producer and composer firmly drunk.
The result was completely opposite. “Cats” blew up the West End and Broadway, and 240 investors who invested money in the original London production, began to prosper. “It was people who were told that they should not invest in show business, it was dangerous, but they gave their savings. I was told “not necessary”, and they answered: we believe in Andrew.”
That “Cat” is strikingly different from the traditional musicals, in terms of plot, execution and decorations, gave them an important advantage in any country of the world theatres didn’t even try to create their own versions of Cats — all required original, the FT notes. “As it was early (before Cats): you sent them the script, and if they paid £3 million, you offered them a setting and they put his version. Now they say: “We want to put “Cats” in Vienna or Norway, but we want to was produced by you,” recalled McIntosh. So, his show in Beijing or the U.S. Milwaukee is no different from prototypes in London and new York, said the FT.
Mac collaborated with Webber a few times: in 1982, he co-produced the musical “Song and dance” (Song and Dance), and in 1986 — “phantom of the Opera” (The Phantom of The Opera). The idea of creation last arose from Webber in 1984, when he married the young actress and singer Sarah Brightman. He wanted to put on a show designed for her voice. As told to Cameron himself, Webber called him when he was taking a bath and asked what he would say if he told him “the phantom of the Opera”. Mac already knew that, tell him Andrew at least “patent cockroaches”, you need to agree.
The premiere of the musical “the phantom of the Opera” took place in the West end in 1986 and on Broadway in 1988. Designer Maria björnson has received several prestigious awards for designed decorations, including a chandelier, a gondola in the basement and a wide staircase, and more than 200 costumes.
This musical has become the second most-lasting musical in history, the West End and the world after the musical “Les Miserables” and the third most powerful production of the musical “Les Miserables” and the play “the Mousetrap”. In addition, “the phantom of the Opera” became the longest running musical in Broadway history, overtaking the shows of the musical “Cats” in 2006.
The show was set in a 151 city 30 countries, it was viewed by over 150 million people. The phantom of the Opera — the most successful entertainment project of all time, according to the FT, as of January 2016 international fees amounted to $6 billion.
In the $1.2 billion estimated as the Macintosh magazine Forbes in March
At 6.5% to £623 million, increased in 2015 compared to 2014 sales of tickets to the London theatres
From £23 to £125 for a ticket to the musical “the phantom of the Opera” in London
The $5.5 billion collected during its existence, the musical “Les Miserables”
75% of the shares of the company Music Theatre International, the issuing of licenses for theatrical productions in the U.S. and owns McIntosh
Eight theatres in the UK belong to the Mac
Your business the producer manages the company and Cameron Mackintosh Limited. It is a private company, its financial performance it does not reveal. According to the FT, in 2015, its profit before tax was £27.7 million with turnover of £139 million, and the Mac has received £13 million in dividends.
So says Mac
“I think that’s my greatest achievement — I grafted standards. This is really felt as a really high-quality thing will live longer than any cheap”.
“I never suggested ideas. But if I felt that the idea is something original, I cooperate with the author and make his show as good as possible. I have to say, comb it well. And although I can’t sing and dance, I can groan, grumbling and shuffling next to the choreographer”.
“The best example for me is my mother. In January, she’s 97, and it is his words do not climb”.
“I’m a billionaire, but I never forget about queues for the cheap places.”
“The lack of a movie, as I found out, is that cash collections can be huge, but a lot of you don’t get it, and you’ll have to settle the money issue for about five years. I’d rather take £1 million from the theatre than £10 million — with the movie, as ultimately from the theatre I’ll get more.”
Source: The Guardian, Financial Times
Mac regularly resumes the old musicals, attracting new Directors and actors. As the FT notes, by 2020 it plans to produce 47 productions. “Six or seven versions of “Les Miserables”, three — “phantom of the Opera”, a couple of “Cats” and four “Miss Saigon”.
In addition, it owns 100% copyright of “Miss Saigon” and “Les Miserables”, as well as share in the musicals “Cats” and “phantom of the Opera” — Mac gets money with each performance.
Mac fundamentally is not going to go into the cinema, although the film of Les misérables, loosely based on the musical, became a hit and won three Oscars.
According to Mac, the majority seriously underestimate the economy of musical theater. For a long time musicals gather a very large amount. Avatar, the highest grossing movie in Hollywood history has grossed $2.9 billion — less than half “the phantom of the Opera”.
Cameron Mackintosh owns eight theatres in the UK. To buy them he started in 1991. Says Mackintosh, owning theaters and producing plays competitive businesses: the owner of the theater wants to take over the rent as much as possible, while the producer wants to pay as little as possible. “I never thought that I would own the theater. The participants of this business — not that of the enemy, but the people with whom it is difficult to deal with.” Mac is not afraid of competitors, including the UK’s largest owner of theatres company the Ambassador Theatre Group. “I think they work very poorly, like most producers in London. It is very harmful for companies who work only to make money for investors. When you squeeze everything you can out of the product to maintain profits, it’s a terrible mistake”. By the time he was interested in buying theaters, he was already rich and could invest in updating them more than the competitors. In January 2016, he invested in the first seven theatres £45 million
These investments have paid off in spades. Managing theatres Delfont Mackintosh company in 2015, made a profit before tax of £14.2 million and £44 million in revenue, said the FT. Overall, the newspaper notes, the theatre sector in London is thriving the last ten years due to the increase in ticket prices despite the fact that attendance in 2015 has increased compared to 2014 more than 1%, to 14.7 million, sales increased by 6.5% to £623 million, while the average ticket price rose to £42.
The third business segment of the Mac — providing a license for the production of musicals in the United States. According to American copyright law to produce a play or musical, you must have a license. Such a license provides the company Music Theatre International (MTI). The Mac owns 75% of its shares, in 2017, it expects to buy the rest. MTI grants a license for the production of 25 thousand productions in the year of 70 thousand organizations ranging from regional theaters to Amateur companies and schools. Every school in the United States that puts “hairspray” or “Annie,” MTI pays fee in the amount of from $700 to $1 thousand MTI holds about 15%, the rest gets a writer, composer or other copyright owners.
In particular, the “Shop of horrors”, which already is on Broadway, performed in the United States hundreds of times a year. In 2015 the fees for licenses and copyrights brought Mac £22.5 million Copyright in the US, the FT notes, are valid for the entire life of the copyright holder, plus 70 years after his death.