Scarlett Johansson is guaranteed a minimum of $40,000 a week (NZ $48,000) to add a dose of sex and glamour to the battered Broadway season in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, according to offering papers distributed to investors.
The base weekly pay for Broadway actors is $1754 (NZ $2102). The offering papers illustrate how celebrities are rewarded and still have an incentive to fill seats.
The Tennessee Williams revival begins previews on December 18. By then, two new plays and one musical will have made hasty exits, with Chaplin due to close on January 6.
Johansson won a Tony Award for her 2010 Broadway debut, a revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge directed by Gregory Mosher, in which she co-starred with Liev Schreiber.
"People really want to see Scarlett Johansson," said Annette Niemtzow, a producer on Leap of Faith and Frost/Nixon who isn't involved with Cat. "She's proved her chops and they want to see how she'll do in a starring role. Maggie the cat is one of the great sexual roles."
General manager and producer Stuart Thompson - a publicity-shy expat Australian whom Johansson called "the classiest man in show business" during her Tony acceptance speech - is mounting the $3.6 million (NZ $4.3 million) revival with a cast of 18 and five understudies. Weekly sales must average $750,211 (NZ $899,000), excluding credit card commissions, to repay investors over the 15-week run, according to the partnership's preliminary estimates.
The Richard Rodgers Theatre could gross $1.2 million a week (NZ $1.4 million) over eight performances, even before accounting for premium seats in the first 16 rows currently as dear as $240 (NZ $287).
(Producers often raise premium prices on hit shows during a run. Discounted tickets as low as $55 (NZ $66) are available for Cat in the rear mezzanine.)
Glengarry - the biggest hit of the flop-filled fall - grossed $1.2 million (NZ 1.4 million) over eight performances in the week ended December 9. Its top ticket price has been as high as $377 (NZ $451).
Thompson and Johansson declined to comment through a production spokesman, Susanne Tighe.