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Quick Takes: 'Wicked' way with money

April 12, 2012

A look behind the emerald curtain at "Wicked" helps explain why, despite long odds against success, a dozen new musicals arrive on Broadway each season.

Since the $14-million show opened at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, its producers and investors have shared more than $300 million in profits from Broadway and productions worldwide, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Profits and compensation from hit shows are closely guarded secrets on Broadway. These figures were culled from 1,698 pages released by the New York state attorney general's office, which requires theater productions that raise money from or within New York to file financial statements.

The three authors of the back story to "The Wizard of Oz" have earned more than $95 million, according to the papers. Stephen Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics, Winnie Holzman the script and Gregory Maguire the 1996 novel upon which it's based.

Joe Mantello, the actor-turned-director who staged the Broadway production and engagements in the U.S., London and Australia, has earned more than $23 million in royalties.

—Bloomberg News

'Titanic 3D' a big splash in China

In America, moviegoer interest in "Titanic 3D" may soon start to ebb, but in China, the tide of box-office receipts for the updated James Cameron classic is rising high.

The reformatted version of the 1997 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet opened in China on Tuesday and posted the highest opening day ever

in the country, not accounting for inflation. In one day, the historical romance sold $11.6 million worth of tickets, or roughly 26% of the $44 million the original grossed in China during its entire theatrical run in 1998.

When the movie was released in China 14 years ago, it played in only 180 theaters. This week, "Titanic 3D" was screened in 3,500 locations in the country, which has in recent years become one of the leading foreign markets for Hollywood films.

—Amy Kaufman

Revere print pops up in book

A rare engraved print created by Paul Revere has been found in a 19th century book at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

A university preservationist discovered the print while studying the 1811 book once owned by a 1773 graduate of Brown. The graduate's descendants donated the book to the Rhode Island school.

The print shows Jesus and John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Revere's name is featured on the bottom.

Only five copies of the print are known to exist.

—Associated Press

New 'Stories' at the Smithsonian

Dorothy's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" have a new home with a diverse set of artifacts in a new timeline of American history that includes a piece of Plymouth Rock, a slave ship manifest, Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and Kermit the Frog at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of American History will open the exhibition Thursday featuring objects from pop culture along with items dating to the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620 in Plymouth, Mass.

"American Stories" will be a new chronology of U.S. history from the early encounters of Europeans and Native Americans to now. It includes a Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign button written in Hebrew.

Dorothy's famed shoes from the 1939 movie will help show the emergence of American pop culture and its significance in forming our shared memories.

Mixing items from pop culture into a broader timeline is a big change for the museum. For more than 20 years, the slippers have been shown in a separate gallery of memorable items from entertainment history. Now they will join other items that explore the nation's founding, growth and reforms, innovations and contemporary society.

"This is a broader definition of what is important to remember," said Marc Pachter, the museum's interim director.

—Associated Press

Mel Gibson project on hold

Mel Gibson's planned collaboration with "Basic Instinct" screenwriter Joe Eszterhas on a historical drama about Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee has been put on hold after Warner Bros. decided it was not ready to film the current script, the studio said Wednesday.

Gibson, who went on an anti-Semitic rant when he was arrested for driving under the influence in 2006 and was criticized for depicting Jews negatively in 2004's "The Passion of the Christ," was to produce and potentially direct but not star in the Maccabee film.

He will likely instead direct but not star in a movie about the Vikings written by Randall Wallace, who wrote Gibson's Oscar-winning "Braveheart," a spokesman for the actor said.

Warner Bros.' options include hiring a new writer or shelving the project.

—John Horn

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