UPDATED: U.K. Ambassador Theatre Group Acquires Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre, Home of Spider-Man
By Michael Gioia
Ambassador Theatre Group, the largest owner-operator of theatres in the U.K. (with 39 venues) has, through its subsidiary, Lyric Theatre LLC, acquired The Foxwoods Theatre — which currently houses Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — from Live Nation Entertainment, representatives for the theatre announced May 20.
Although it was not revealed how much the Foxwoods sold for, U.K. newspaper The Telegraph previously reported that ATG was expected to secure the venue — one of Broadway's biggest houses, with 1,932 seats — for $60-$70 million (£40-£46 million), from Live Nation. Berenson & Company LLC acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Ambassador Theatre Group with respect to this transaction.
The Foxwoods, the 83,706-square-foot theatre in the heart of New York's Times Square Theatre District, is ATG's first house in the United States and the company's 40th venue. The acquisition comes just months after ATG announced plans to expand overseas into key international territories including North America, Australia and the Asia Pacific Region.
Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, ATG's co-CEOs, said that the deal for The Foxwoods Theatre will mark a significant increase in activity in North America.
"It is no secret that we at ATG have been looking to expand our impressive portfolio of U.K. theatres, by making acquisitions and alliances in strategic markets around the world," said Panter in a statement. "We have been waiting for the right opportunity and The Foxwoods Theatre is a perfect match for our ambitions. Ownership of The Foxwoods Theatre within the Group will provide a catalyst to expand in the North American market and to further build on our past production successes in North America."
Squire added, "We are incredibly excited to be operating this beautiful landmark facility, situated right at the heart of one of the world's most iconic streets for theatre and we hold great esteem for Cora Cahan and The New 42nd Street, Inc. and their impressive vision to preserve and restore the historic theatres of 42nd Street. It is a great privilege for our Group to be entrusted with the guardianship of this magnificent New York Theatre. The Foxwoods Theatre management are exceptionally dedicated, passionate and diligent and we look forward to working alongside our new colleagues in North America."
Panter and Squire plan to continue housing the high-flying musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark at the Foxwoods.
"Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark is a truly ground-breaking musical and is known to millions of people around the world," said Panter. "We're looking forward to having Spider-Man and producers Michael Cohl and Jere Harris at the theatre for a very long time, thrilling audiences and often bringing them to Broadway for the very first time."
Michael Rapino, president and chief executive officer of Live Nation Entertainment, said, "My team at Live Nation worked very hard to find the right buyer for The Foxwoods Theatre and we are confident that the Ambassador Theatre Group will ensure a bright future for this historic theater. We will continue to focus on delivering live music to our fans."
Erich Jungwirth, previously vice president theatrical for The Foxwoods, is remaining with the venue as the chief operating officer for Lyric Theatre, LLC.
This is not ATG's first transaction with Live Nation. In 2009 ATG bought all 16 of Live Nation's U.K. theatres for £90 million. They include the Apollo Theatre in Victoria, home of Wicked, and the Lyceum Theatre London, home of The Lion King.
ATG's West End theatres include historic buildings such as the Apollo Victoria, Donmar Warehouse, Duke of York’s, Fortune Theatre, Harold Pinter, Lyceum, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Playhouse, Savoy, Trafalgar Studio 1 and Trafalgar Studio 2.
ATG's regional theatres include The Ambassadors Woking encompassing the New Victoria and Rhoda McGaw Theatres and the award-winning six-screen cinema complex, Ambassador Cinemas; Aylesbury Waterside Theatre; New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham; Theatre Royal Brighton; Bristol Hippodrome; Churchill Theatre Bromley; Edinburgh Playhouse; Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone; King’s Theatre and Theatre Royal, Glasgow; Grimsby Auditorium; Liverpool Empire; Palace Theatre and Opera House, Manchester; Milton Keynes Theatre; New Theatre, Oxford; Richmond Theatre; Southport Theatre; Regent Theatre and Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent; Sunderland Empire; Princess Theatre, Torquay; New Wimbledon Theatre and New Wimbledon Studio; Grand Opera House, York.
Companies within the ATG Group have, for many years, been active and critically acclaimed producers on Broadway. Recent Broadway productions within the ATG Group have included The Mountaintop, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett; Exit the King, starring Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon; and John Doyle's award-winning production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. Recent Broadway credits for Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP) include The Book of Mormon, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Jerusalem.
With the sale comes the ability for the new owner to change the name of the Foxwoods, which is a mid-1990s construction that conflated two historic Broadway houses/facades — the Lyric (1903) and Apollo (1920) — into Broadway's largest theatre. Its first marquee name at the time of the 1998 reopening was Ford Center for the Performing Arts; Ragtime was the opening show there.
It was later called the Hilton Theatre. In 2010 it became Foxwoods Theatre. Built for large-scale, splashy musicals, its tenants have included Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, the 2001 revival of 42nd Street and the 2000 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, among other shows.
The four-story theatre has entrances at 213 W. 42nd Street and 214 W. 43rd Street.
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