The British producer — who predicted in early May that major musicals may be on ice across London’s theater district until the new year — revealed on Wednesday that four of his productions via firm Delfont Mackintosh Productions will be delayed until “as early as practical” in 2021 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to “Les Misérables” and “Hamilton,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Phantom of the Opera” (pictured) have also been postponed. Delfont Mackintosh cited “continued uncertainty over when the government is going to completely withdraw social distancing measures.”
As a result of the postponed shows, the firm has begun a consultation process over potential redundancies for all employees on the four productions.
Mackintosh, one of the most prominent voices in U.K. theater, said it was a “heartbreaking” decision to delay the shows’ return.
“Despite the government engaging with the desperate pleas from everyone in the theater industry, so far there has been no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt, which I don’t want to do,” said Mackintosh.
“Their inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is. This has forced me to take drastic steps to ensure that I have the resources for my business to survive and enable my shows and theaters to reopen next year when we are permitted to.”
The veteran producer stressed that he has no investors or venture capital backing. “Everything is funded by me personally and already my companies’ considerable reserves have been massively reduced by the complete closure of our industry everywhere,” said Mackintosh.
“Everything I have made has come from the theater and everything I have has gone back into these magnificent historic buildings that I have lovingly restored and the spectacular productions I have painstakingly insisted remain in tip top shape wherever they play in the world — resulting in my being one of the biggest employers in the theater,” said Mackintosh.
Referencing the billions of pounds in revenue generated by commercial theaters, Mackintosh demanded that the government takes action “to ensure this priceless resource at which the British people excel is helped to survive. Without our theaters being ablaze with life, London cannot properly reopen as one of the world’s greatest cities.”
Although cinemas are able to reopen from July 4, as per U.K. government guidance, the current two-meter social distancing guidelines make it impossible for theaters to stage productions and break even. Figures such as “1917” director Sam Mendes have been rallying the government to provide a rescue package to save the sector.
A new report commissioned by the Creative Industries Federation has predicted that theater is projected to shrink 61% to lose £3 billion ($3.8 billion) in revenue, with up to 70% of jobs lost.