In 2017 Spears wrapped her four-year, 248-show Piece of Me residency at Planet Hollywood, followed by the 2018 Piece of Me tour on the East Coast and through Europe. Sources tell Billboard the demand for Spears in 2019 had dropped -- a situation only compounded by competing Las Vegas residency shows by Gaga, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani and the Backstreet Boys.
Spears' widely panned announcement for Domination, also didn't help matters. She first appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to announce a forthcoming big announcement, making for a segment that was more awkward than anticipation-building. Days later, fans tuned in for a 28-minute so-called "official announcement" that showed Spears turning up late to only wave to fans before walking down several steps to a waiting SUV that quickly drove off, leaving many bewildered by her behavior.
Fans were far more sympathetic Friday (Jan. 4) when the "Toxic" singer announced the cancellation, noting her intent to spend more time with her family, revealing her father suffered a life-threatening colon rupture last year and has been hospitalized since. He is expected to recover.
Sources say the cancellation could cost Spears her guarantee for the show, which could be worth several million dollars. There would also be costs for the venue and its owners MGM Grand, which likely already invested in preproduction for the show. That could easily add up to $2 million to $3 million, according to a source in Las Vegas familiar with residency shows.
There's also the lost marketing costs, including the strange-but-pricey Las Vegas October announcement and print and online advertisements spent on the show, plus the opportunity cost of having nine event nights in February and March go dark. While it might be difficult to fill those dates in a few weeks, the 22 dates scheduled for May, July and August are likely salvageable. The popular venue is typically booked out several years in advance and sources say the 2018 dates present an interesting opportunity for an artist or show looking to play in Las Vegas.
While it's unclear whether Spears' insurance would cover lost revenue, Paul Bassman of Ascend Insurance, which services the live entertainment industry, says it's common for artists to have policies that cover cancellation due to a family member's illness. But typically those policies only cover life-threatening illnesses.
"Since her father is expected to recover, that's typically not something that would be covered," Bassman says, adding that he does not have any inside knowledge of Spears' policy for the show.
Bill Hornbuckle, president MGM Resorts International released a statement to Billboard, saying “All of us at MGM Resorts wish Mr. Spears a speedy recovery. We wholly understand and respect Britney’s commitment to her family and believe that her place is with them during this important time.”
Reps for Spears did not respond to requests for comment.