Cirque du Soleil swings to $1bn revenue as it mulls shows at O2

Avant-garde acrobatics company in search of permanent London home anticipates record profits

Cirque du Soleil, the surreal circus company currently playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London, is expecting record profits of $250m (£156m) on revenue of $1bn this year, according to its founder, Guy Laliberté.

The 51-year-old is in talks about hosting a permanent performance at the O2 arena in the east of the city, but has to juggle Cirque's rarity value with the huge demand for its shows.

Mr Laliberté said: "We are working hard trying to find a place in London. We have been looking all over for 10 years. Eventually, we will be at the right place at the right moment with the right real-estate developer. We have looked at the O2. It has been part of the discussion." David Campbell, the chief executive of AEG Europe, which owns the O2, confirmed the talks: "We have looked at it and it's just a question of getting the right business model. It's not imminent but it's not been dismissed."

The move would give a further boost to Cirque's fortunes, which have ballooned as it cornered a niche in avant-garde acrobatics. "In 2010, revenues were $850m, and this year we could ring the bell of a billion dollars," said Mr Laliberté in London last week.

Cirque has now performed to more than 100 million spectators in more than 300 cities, and is still growing. "Last year we sold a little over 11 million tickets, [up] one and a half million on 2009," he said. "Over the past two years, except for three or four weeks, our Vegas shows were over 97 per cent occupancy." The shows bring in around 60 per cent of revenue.

Mr Laliberté has 10 touring shows and 10 others based in permanent theatres in Las Vegas, Macau, Orlando and Tokyo. Istithmar World Capital, a Dubai-based private equity investor, and Nakheel, a real-estate developer, own 20 per cent of the business. Mr Laliberté owns the rest.

Cirque is to launch a new tour mixing acrobatics with the music of Michael Jackson; Mr Laliberté hopes for $40m in advance sales, saying: "This has the potential to be one of the biggest deals we have done."

In O, a Cirque extravaganza, synchronised swimmers rise from a 1.5 million-gallon pool of water which turns into a solid stage floor. "O has grossed over a billion dollars since it opened in 1998," said Mr Laliberté. Two other shows open this year: one in New York's Radio City music hall, the other in the Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles, which is home to the Oscars.

The productions have been financed with a $50m fund raised by private investors from the US and Canada. "We could extend this type of fund to real estate," said Mr Laliberté. "If successful it will give us great credibility in the market without having to go public."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Executive Assistant/Events Coordinator - Old Street, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Executive Assistant/Event...

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Derivatives Risk Commodities Business Analyst /Market Risk

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Derivatives Risk Commodities Business A...

Power & Gas Business Analyst / Subject Matter Expert - Contract

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Power & Gas Business Analyst/Subject Ma...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering