AEG on Why Hugh Jackman’s Arena Tour Can’t Be Duplicated: ‘People Will Lose a Lot of Money Trying’


Hugh Jackman's The Man. The Music. The Show. tour has been the surprise boxscore hit of the season. The actor, singer and dancer pulled in an impressive $27 million across 17 shows in the month of June alone with a set that features songs from the movies and musicals Jackman has starred in, including The Greatest Showman, Les Misérables and The Boy From Oz.

“It is unprecedented. A lot of us would count this as the biggest surprise of our career,” says AEG Presents senior vp global touring Rich Schaefer. “The U.K. and Europe went on sale before the U.S. did. I remember I woke up at four in the morning and got on the phone with [AEG Presents U.K.’s] Toby Leighton-Pope, whom we did this tour with. I said. ‘How are we doing?’ And he said, ‘It’s insane.’ ”

In June, The Man. The Music. The Show. — which kicked off in May and has dates scheduled internationally through October — sold nearly 230,000 tickets, including a six-show run at the O2 Arena in London June 2-7 that brought in about $7.5 million. The mini-residency earned Jackman the No. 8 spot on Top Boxscores and helped secure AEG Presents the No. 2 position on Top Promoters. Schaefer shares how Jackman pulled it off.

With no other programming like this on the market, how did you think this show would fare?

I thought it would do great, but I don’t think anyone thought it would do what it did. We did three Madison Square Garden shows in two days. We did three Birmingham and Manchester Arenas [in England]. We did matinees. I remember seeing Hugh, and he said, “I can’t believe we sold out two Madison Square Gardens on the on-sale.” We had expectations, and it blew past the expectations.

Many tours don’t host matinees. How did that come about?

His team said he could do a matinee if we got it. So we started doing Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night in different markets. The [audience] at the Garden was probably a little bit older and a little bit younger than the other shows, but it may have been the best of the three.

Hugh’s a worker. I’ve managed bands my whole career, and I’ve never seen someone do six shows in five days. We did that in the Northeast recently. He is trained for this. He doesn’t go out late and party. He is very disciplined and delivers onstage for the people who are paying.

What do Jackman’s matinee shows say about the audience he is bringing in?

You couldn’t do that with a traditional pop act. I don’t think their audience would want to come at one o’clock on a Saturday. It speaks to just how diverse his audience is. There were a lot of families at that show. It’s kids, it’s parents. It’s gay, it’s straight. It’s date night, girls’ night out, boys’ night out.

Having an actor tour with music from his films is a new concept. Do you think other promoters will put together more shows like this?

I can tell you that a lot of people will lose a lot of money trying. I’m sure we’ll play around with the concept and see if there are other things that make sense, but there’s really not another person like this that is so multifaceted and can do what he does at such a high level.

This article originally appeared in the July 27 issue of Billboard.