'King Kong' has a capitalization of $36.5 million. (Photo: James Morgan)
Every Broadway season boasts a show or two that promises big-screen thrills delivered on record-busting budgets. Back in 1987, the Shubert Organization swallowed the cost of structural reinforcements to the Majestic Theatre in order to book “The Phantom of the Opera,” with its swinging chandelier. In 2008, DreamWorks spent $25 million turning its animated hit “Shrek” into a showcase for Brian d’Arcy James and Sutton Foster. “Rocky: The Musical” — with its levitating boxing ring — cost 15 times the budget of “Rocky,” the $1.1 million movie (or 35 times, if you count the $20 million spent on the initial…

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  1. As a writer, I have low expectations of ever getting a play into a Broadway house unless it is a huge success off-Broadway first. That’s okay since the smaller venues provide a relationship with the audience that can get lost in bigger theaters. The trouble is being someone with a “Dear Evan Hansen” or “Come From Away” that does not rely on existing IP (or maybe does to some extent as is the case with my gay rodeo musical) and is not backed by a movie company. That requires developing a show in regionals and waiting for a slot in next year’s calendar, which require having an agent who will sign someone starting out and those do not exist. Absent possible connections from going through an MFA program, writers of musicals can find it impossible to gain traction sufficient to get their work noticed and developed to eventually make it to Broadway.