Ambassador Theater Group, the largest owner-operator of theaters in the U.K., has at last planted a flag on Broadway with the acquisition of the Foxwoods Theater, current home of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
The Foxwoods, which former owner Live Nation Entertainment put on the block several months ago, becomes the 40th venue to be owned by ATG and the first Stateside house in the company’s stable. ATG toppers Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire have been eyeing a foothold in New York real estate for several years now, and news of the company’s possible purchase of the Foxwoods had begun to circulate among legiters in recent days.
As a performance venue, the Foxwoods does not have the strongest rep among Broadway producers, many of whom find the 1,930-seat space — the largest on Broadway — distancing for audience members and acoustically challenging. One of the newer theaters on the block, the Foxwoods, which opened in 1997 as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, has also proven hard to make a buck in for a string of tenants that has included “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “The Pirate Queen” and “Young Frankenstein.”
Current occupant “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” consistently posts weekly sales of more than $1 million, but that show’s running costs are pricey enough that turning a profit is a long way off. Sale of the theater won’t affect the run of “Spider-Man,” which is currently open-ended and an important flagship for a show that’s hoping to make its real money in iterations elsewhere in North America and around the world.
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Although the programming in the theater isn’t skedded to change in the near future, the new ownership nonetheless is markedly different from Live Nation. ATG has ambition to expand into a major Broadway player, with Panter saying the Foxwoods deal is the catalyst for a rise in activity in the American theater market. Company also has plans to grow into Australia and the Asia Pacific region as well.
Alongside its 39 venues across the U.K. (including a number of West End houses), ATG acts as an umbrella org for other companies including Sonia Friedman Prods., a frequent producer both on the West End and on Broadway, as well as Jerry Mitchell Prods., Jamie Lloyd Prods. and Theater Royal Brighton Productions. ATG acquired the Foxwoods through its subsidiary Lyric Theater.
Erich Jungwirth, who had been veep of theatrical for Foxwoods, will stay on with the ATG, becoming chief operating officer for Lyric Theater.