Papering a Theatrical Production

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A big part of any theatrical production in New York is the great degree of strategizing that occurs prior to opening night — and with good reason.  A staggering number of contracts and other issues need to be addressed for a variety of relationships that are involved in any theatre production. But the show, as they say, must go on.

Contracts are built around a range of factors that will affect the terms, such as:

  • Is it in a traditional or non-traditional venue?
  • What is the estimated budget?
  • What are the development costs that are folded into that budget?
  • How many investors are involved?


A Rights Agreement is a license for the written instrument, e.g., the script, book, film, etc., usually for a set amount of time. If there is not a current Rights Agreement in place, one must be created as soon as possible. The next step is to solidify the Rights Agreement into a Rights Contract which ensures that the duration of those rights coincides with the performance dates.

In the event an Off-Broadway production gets the chance to open in a Broadway theater, it is vital that whatever option or purchase agreement that existed for the Off-Broadway theater be current and applicable at the new venue. If not, the contract will need to be re-drafted.


Utilizing investors involves drafting Offering Documents. It is important to remain compliant with federal securities requirements. Offering documents can be developed pursuant to an exemption from state and federal securities requirements, but it is vital to attend to these details. Depending on the level of finance and sophistication, these instruments may also include accredited investor questionnaires and tax forms.

Relationship with the Cast

When a performer is just beginning his or her career, the contract governing his or her employment can be relatively simple. For more seasoned performers, the contracts become more complicated. Established actors, especially in theatre, often require additional considerations in order to perform the talent-driven work that is required of them.

In addition to the agreements required to secure rights, investors, and cast, there are myriad other considerations, such as preparing

  • a production company LLC;
  • an Operating Agreement;
  • an Employment Agreement with the current creative team and crew;
  • a Co-Production Agreement if there is more than one producer;
  • various contracts with the venue; and
  • a Private Placement Memorandum and notification under Regulation D. 

Experienced legal consultation, negotiation, and drafting are essential to correctly organize the many players in a theatrical production. The good news for productions of all sizes is that many law firms are able to work with flexible payment schedules or even on a flat fee basis.

For more information, visit our contact page.

Aaron Pierce
(212) 882-1752
299 Broadway, Suite 1405
New York, NY 10007

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