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Why are Hollywood's elite heading to Broadway for work?

By Katie Walmsley, CNN
Sienna Miller leaves the stage following a curtain call on the opening night of "After Miss Julie" on Broadway.
Sienna Miller leaves the stage following a curtain call on the opening night of "After Miss Julie" on Broadway.
  • Hollywood's top stars are heading to New York for leading roles on Broadway
  • Stage productions can mean big earnings for actors
  • Shows featuring stars are currently the main profit makers

New York (CNN) -- Broadway's current cast list looks more like a lineup card for the Oscars as Hollywood stars migrate east to New York City due to tougher economic times.

The roll call is a who's who of Hollywood's elite -- Jude Law in "Hamlet", Sienna Miller in "After Miss Julie", Catherine Zeta-Jones in "A Little Night Music" and Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in "A Steady Rain" -- all in starring roles on Broadway.

Industry insiders explain that Broadway still garners big money and it may be the answer many Hollywood actors are looking for.

"The stars can make a pretty penny and often they do deals where they're getting a cut of the box office, so if it's Hugh Jackman's show which makes a million dollars a week, he's definitely seeing a share of that in his paycheck," Paul Wontorek, editor of said.

Video: Hollywood heads to Broadway

"This past year a lot of what the shows critics said were important in theatres didn't sell as many tickets. If you look at "Hamlet" with Jude law and "A Steady Rain" with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig -- they were shows that got ok reviews, but were still sold out hits"

Hollywood A-lister's also realize that tougher economic times mean it's becoming more difficult to get plum movie roles.

"Right now, given not just the economic climate, but there's also a missing link in movie making," Catherine Zeta Jones said.

"To find good material and be able to do it on stage and Broadway is a treat and I think actors would prefer to do that than make a crummy movie."

According to the Broadway League, shows featuring stars and big ticket musicals are currently the main profit makers so it is becoming crucial to get a big name.

"I do think Broadway is changing in a sense because the critics are a lot less powerful now than they once were," Wontorek told CNN.

"I think people are a lot more selective now about how they decide to spend their money so maybe shows without stars or shows that are more experimental may have a harder time getting people in."