The show has achieved the milestone faster than any other Broadway production that has topped $1 billion in New York sales alone — an elite pantheon of which there are only two other members, “The Lion King” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” Disney juggernaut “The Lion King” was the first to do it in 2013, 16 years after its 1997 bow, and evergreen “Phantom” followed in 2015, some 27 years after its 1988 premiere. (Back when “Phantom” opened, a sold-out smash translated to about $550,000 in late-’80s dollars, a far cry from the $3.2 million “Wicked” scored over a record-breaking holiday week in 2013.)
“Wicked” has spent the majority of its run at or near the top of Broadway’s weekly sales chart. The $1 billion cumulative take accounts for about one quarter of the title’s $4 billion worldwide sales; more than $2.8 billion of that comes from the show’s other North American companies, including tours and sit-down productions in Chicago, L.A. and San Francisco.
Internationally, the musical has played to 50 million people in 14 countries, including Japan, Mexico and Australia, and been translated into six languages. A West End outpost has been running in London since 2006.
For the broader entertainment industry, “Wicked” has long served as one of the clearest illustrations of the enormous potential of a hit stage musical. “Wicked” qualifies as one of the most profitable properties in the entire catalog of its movie-studio backer, Universal Pictures, while “Lion King” turned heads two years ago when its $6.2 billion in worldwide sales made it the highest-grossing title in any medium.
Adapted from Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel by book writer Winnie Holzman (“My So-Called Life”) and composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz (“Pippin,” “Godspell”), “Wicked” tells the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the West and her unexpected friendship with Glinda the Good Witch. Film producer Marc Platt (“Bridge of Spies”), Universal Stage Productions, the Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone produce.
Idina Menzel, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Elphaba, and Kristin Chenoweth led the cast in 2003. The Broadway incarnation now stars Rachel Tucker and Carrie St. Louis.