At $125,000 a week, Al Pacino finds 'Glengarry' job paying off
October 29, 2012 4:00 AM
Al Pacino at a media event to promote the upcoming Broadway production of "Glengarry Glen Ross," at Studio Ten in New York.
By Philip Boroff Bloomberg News
NEW YORK -- Film and sometime stage star Al Pacino is being paid a minimum of $125,000 a week for playing washed-up real estate huckster Shelly Levene on Broadway in "Glengarry Glen Ross."
It's one of the biggest ever pay packages for a Broadway star, proving that death aside, the life of a salesman isn't so shabby.
For the 10-week run of David Mamet's drama about sniping struggling Chicago scam artists, Mr. Pacino also is entitled to 5 percent of profits. That's contingent on the roughly $2.3 million production paying back investors, according to the operating agreement for Glengarry Broadway, the limited liability company formed to mount the revival.
The operating agreement was obtained from the office of the New York Attorney General through a Freedom of Information Law request.
Weekly salaries for all seven actors in the cast total $155,000. That leaves six actors -- including Bobby Cannavale, a Tony Award nominee last year -- to divide up about $30,000.
Mr. Cannavale plays Ricky Roma, the role that earned Mr. Pacino an Academy Award nomination in the 1992 film version.
"A star is an insurance policy, but you never know who is going to sell tickets in what show," said Robyn Goodman, a Broadway producer who isn't involved with "Glengarry." This season she cast Henry Winkler ("The Fonz" from television's "Happy Days") and Alicia Silverstone ("Clueless") in the comedy "The Performers."
Mr. Pacino's pay tops that of Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, who each were paid $100,000 a week plus a sliver of profits when they returned to "The Producers" for three months in 2004, said a member of the show's production team who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In 2009's "A Steady Rain," Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig each earned as much as $120,000 per week or 10 percent of the box office, a production source from that show told Bloomberg News.
Appearing seven years after an acclaimed and profitable Broadway revival with Liev Schreiber and Alan Alda, "Glengarry" is off to a strong start. Sales were $704,000 for the first four previews, according to a trade group, the Broadway League, or about $630,000 after deducting for credit card and other commissions. That's above the $491,295 the production estimated it needs to pay weekly expenses for each seven-performance week.
Jeffrey Richards, one of the lead producers, said it was too early to say whether the show would succeed commercially.
"It's always worth it to work with Al Pacino, one of our great stage actors," he said in an interview.
To pay back the $2.3 million in production costs, which includes sets and advertising, the show must sell an average of nearly $900,000 in tickets per week, including credit card and other fees.
Theoretically, the sky's the limit at the box office. In August, producers projected selling 60 prime "premium seats" for each weekend performance at $250. They've since raised the top price 40 percent to $352, and for some November performances, they are $377. Tickets were up to $499 for the final performances of last season's "Death of a Salesman," with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Producers deem as many seats "premium" as the market will bear, even in the rear of the theater. The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre has 652 seats in the orchestra, 1,062 in all.
The minimum investment accepted was $2,000, according to the papers. While investors are well-positioned to get their money back, gains may be muted by the profits offered to Mr. Pacino, Mr. Mamet and director Daniel Sullivan.
Mr. Sullivan, in addition to a $100,000 fee and royalty starting at 5 percent of box office, eventually earns as much as 7.5 percent of profit. Two years ago, Mr. Sullivan directed Mr. Pacino in a profitable mounting of "The Merchant of Venice," which transferred to Broadway from Central Park.
The production pays Mr. Pacino's assistant $1,000 a week and $2,850 for local transportation for two actors.
Mr. Pacino, Mr. Mamet and Mr. Sullivan collectively can earn 22.5 percent of profit, according to the papers. (The general manager, Richards/Climan Inc., also receives an undisclosed share of profits.) The remainder is divided among the three lead producers -- Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler -- and the investment pool.
The three lead producers earn a onetime production fee of $20,000, plus 3 percent of box office and $3,600 a week for what's listed as an executive producer fee and office fee.
Mr. Richards, a veteran press agent, earns another $2,300 weekly for handling publicity. He can also charge for promoting "Glengarry" on "Broadway's Best Shows," a website he owns.
Theater expenses, including rent, stagehands and 7 percent of box office, amount to about $110,000 for a $491,000 week at the box office. The Shubert Organization owns the Schoenfeld.
In salary alone, Mr. Pacino earns about 71 times the minimum pay negotiated by Actors' Equity for its members for commercial Broadway productions. He gets about 100 times the minimum for those performing on Broadway for nonprofits, such as the Roundabout Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club.
The investment papers disclose that as of mid-August, the various contracts hadn't been completed, and there's no guarantee they would be.
Should weekly ticket sales exceed $1.25 million after deducting for commissions, Mr. Pacino enjoys another revenue stream: 10 percent of box office above $1.25 million.