Disney Offers Profit-Sharing Deal to ‘Frozen’ Stage Actors

Gordon Cox
Variety

Disney Theatrical Productions has made profit-sharing offers to the actors slated to appear in an upcoming developmental lab of “Frozen,” the Broadway-bound stage musical adaptation of the studio’s animated megahit.

It’s not the first time Disney has made similar deals with performers: As far back as “Aida” in 2000, actors who participated in that show’s development received annual bonuses during the production’s four-year Broadway run. But the “Frozen” pact  comes to light just as the issue of compensating actors for developmental work has come to the forefront of theater-industry awareness, thanks in part to a recent profit-sharing arrangement hammered out with the original cast members of “Hamilton.”

According to a letter sent by DTP to the “Frozen” lab’s participants, actors and stage managers involved in the development, the pre-Broadway run or the original Broadway cast will collectively share in .5% of the net profits of the first three English-language productions of “Frozen,” for the first ten years of the musical’s life. Those involved in the upcoming lab, which starts later this month, are offered a weekly salary of $1,400, an increase from the $1,000 per week standard.

It’s only in the rarest of cases that an actor benefits from profit-sharing, since an average of just one in five Broadway productions manages to turn a profit, and even fewer than that become the kind of mega-successes that generate significant ongoing revenue. DTP, however, was being closely watched to see how it might handle such an arrangement for “Frozen,” which, given the film’s $1.28 billion worldwide gross, has an obvious potential to become a global box office juggernaut along the lines of “The Lion King,” the Disney property that has rung in more than $6.2 billion for the studio.

Due to the collaborative nature of stage musical development, an actor can often play a role in shaping the development of a character or of an overall story arc. Profit-sharing deals with originating actors have been made for some smash-hit productions at least since 1975 hit “A Chorus Line”; the megabucks raked in by “Hamilton” prompted that show’s originating actors to advocate for (and subsequent win) a share in that show’s profits. (The exact terms of that deal weren’t disclosed, but it’s likely that the original cast members will share in  1% of the musical’s profits, which is the standard for such pacts.)

In the case of “Frozen,” Disney initiated the profit-sharing arrangement. Actors — including “Hamilton” Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. and Steven Pasquale — praised the deal on social media.


News of the pact was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

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