Following on the Hamilton producers’ agreement to pay the original cast members a percentage of that show’s mega profits, The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney is planning to offer original cast members of its upcoming stage adaptation of Frozen a similar cut of that show’s future profits.
The business paper said Disney Theatrical Productions on October 11 emailed the actors who will be taking part in this month’s developmental lab, saying that they will be offered contracts that exceed “standard [Actors Equity Association] contract’s terms by $400 in weekly salaries and adds the promise of 0.5 percent of net profits from the first three English-language productions for the first 10 years of profitability. The percentage will be shared by all actors who develop the show from the lab up to opening night.”
The lab is scheduled to begin October 24. The cast has not yet been announced.
While there is no guarantee that the show will be a hit and that there will be any profits at all to share, the animated film version of Frozen was the most successful in Disney corporate history, grossing a reported $1.2 billion.
Thomas Schumacher, president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, said in a statement, “We’re thrilled that, should Frozen reach success, our Equity collaborators will share in the profit.”
The profit-sharing deal is not a first for Disney. A Disney spokesperson told Playbill.com that its 2000 musical Aida paid an annual bonus to its development actors for each of its four years on Broadway. Broadway’s Tarzan and the touring revue On The Record also had deals in place, but neither reached the thresholds for activation.
These agreements echo a voluntary agreement reached with the original cast of A Chorus Line in the 1970s. The idea with A Chorus Line was that the show was partially based on the life stories of several original cast members, who then contributed to the script during the show's workshop development.
While the Hamilton characters are not based on the lives of the original cast members, those original cast members did participate in the creation of the show during the final stages of its development.
Details of the April 2016 Hamilton agreement were recently made public by Bloomberg. Producer Jeffrey Seller agreed to give original cast members and several other participants a one percent piece of net Broadway profits to split, plus a smaller .33 percent share from most future productions.
Schumacher very pointed reference to the actors as “collaborators” underlined their accepted status.
(Updated October 12, 2016)