June 1, 2016

Book-to-Broadway: American Psycho flops


Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman (Jeremy Daniel, via Playbill)

Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman. Photo Jeremy Daniel, via Playbill.

Despite the elaborate production, timely critique of late capitalism, and conspicuously buff cast, the Broadway adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho—which proved so controversial to readers in the early nineties, and so amusing to movie-goers in 2000—has failed to resonate on the stage. Last week, producers announced that the show will close this Sunday, June 5, barely a month after it opened to mixed reviews.

The production “suffers from the weight of having to be a big Broadway musical,” Ben Brantley wrote for the New York Times. “It panders to audiences who are presumably partly made up of the affluent, heat-seeking souls it parodies.” Worse still, its tone is “terminally undecided.”

In what has otherwise been “another banner year” for Broadway (Alexis Soloski at The Guardian reports attendance has surpassed 13 million people, and gross profits of more than $1.3 billion), American Psycho will limp out with barely 50% of its potential gross and only two minor Tony nominations.

As for how the chiseled cast may be taking the news, perhaps the novel’s titular psycho puts it best: “All it comes down to is this: I feel like shit but look great.”



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.