Chinese investors bet on Broadway

Global Business

Chinese investors are backing some of the biggest hits in show business and they’re looking to spend more. CCTV America’s Liling Tan goes behind the scenes in New York City to find out why these newcomers are creating so much buzz.


An American in Paris
The romantic story of a young American soldier, a beautiful French girl and an indomitable European city. Under the direction of two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Wheeldon, the remarkable cast of singers, actors and dancers bring the magic and romance of Paris and the timeless songs of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin into perfect harmony.

Gross sales as of 6/14: $1,399,818
Opened: April 12, 2015

Hand to God
The uproarious and provocative HAND TO GOD centers on shy, inquisitive student Jason, who finds an outlet for his burgeoning creativity at the Christian Puppet Ministry in the devoutly religious, relatively quiet small town of Cypress, Texas. Jason’s complicated relationships with the town pastor, the school bully, the girl next door and—most especially—his mother are thrown into further upheaval when Jason’s hand puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality all its own.

Gross sales as of 6/14: $389,264
Opened: April 7, 2015

Something Rotten
Welcome to the ’90s — the 1590s. Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar known as “The Bard.” When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first MUSICAL!

Gross sales as of 6/14: $1,178,048
Opened: April 22, 2015

Three major Broadway musicals have Chinese backers, the Wall Street Journal found, signifying Chinese investors’ expansion into New York theater.

China Media Capital, a state-backed private-equity fund, has invested “Hand to God” and “Something Rotten!”, while Beijing-based China Broadway Entertainment is a funder of “An American in Paris”, the Journal found.

“There’s all kinds of things that theater offers the world, and I would love to see more Chinese money on Broadway,” said Pat Addiss, producer of “Dinner with the Boys”

On the play’s off-Broadway set, actor Dan Lauria said he welcomed the Chinese investment.

“I think we should be more open about letting other cultures invest in art and bringing their art here and our art there,” Lauria said.

“MAMMA MIA!” Chinese trailer:

The budding investor interest is viewed as a business relationship with commercial, cultural, and creative value.

“It’s a very good thing because we are appealing to the public and the public is a global public,” said Marina Kennedy, editor of the website BroadwayWorld.

Business relationships between China and Broadway aren’t new. Broadway hits have been imported into China before, and Chinese shows have also made their way here.

But for the first time, Chinese companies are backing Broadway shows that have absolutely nothing to do with China or the Chinese.

“Cats” run in China:

Don Frantz, producer of broadway hits “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King” works closely with Chinese producers and has a Chinese investor in his current musical “Disenchanted.”

He says more than turning a profit in the short term, the long play by Chinese investors is to create China’s own Broadway-style musical theater industry… by learning from the best New York has to offer.

“It is about a relationship with the American team, which eventually will lead back to the Chinese stage. And I’m not just talking about “American in Paris” going to China or “Something Rotten” going to China. I’m talking about the expertise, the resources, the talents, the guidance to help the Chinese producers understand exactly how to produce the best product for China,” Frantz said.