UPDATE 2:20 P.M. with more info throughout.
Broadway’s crazy 2014-2015 season ended on a very high note, especially if you’re a theater owner or one of a handful of producers with big fat hits: The week that ended Sunday brought the Street’s 52-week total gross to $1.36 billion. Total attendance of 13.1 million also set a record, surpassing by more than 2.6 million that of the 10 professional New York and New Jersey sports teams combined, according to the trade group Broadway League. The League says it is the largest difference since 2005.
“It’s been another extraordinary season on Broadway,” said Charlotte St. Martin, newly appointed president of the Broadway League after serving many years as executive director. “I’m thrilled that we have broken all records! The upward trend in audience growth continues and it’s no surprise. While we’ve been saying for several years now that there is something for everyone on Broadway, to have audience growth of over 13% in two years clearly proves our point.”
Total gross for the season (actually called the gross-gross, as the figure does not include deductions for credit-card purchases and other upfront charges) was up 7.6%, while attendance was up about the same, at 7.3%. Much of the gain can be attributed to such factors as the increase in dynamic pricing, in which the price of tickets fluctuates according to demand; more seats being sold at “premium” prices, and a greater number of star-driven, limited-run shows. The League did not estimate the total losses accumulated this season by shows that failed, including Doctor Zhivago, Honeymoon In Vegas, The Last Ship and Side Show, which may have cost investors this season upwards of $70 million.
As for the week itself, the numbers show attendance building for several shows in the run-up to the June 7 Tony Awards. Thirteen of 31 productions grossed over $1 million, including newcomers An American In Paris (at $1.35 million, its best week yet at the Nederlanders’ Palace Theatre), Finding Neverland ($1.1 million at the Nederlanders’ Lunt-Fontanne), Larry David’s runaway hit Fish In The Dark ($1.2 million at true Shuberts’ Cort), Something Rotten! ($1 million at Jujamcyn’s St. James), Helen Mirren-starrer The Audience (at the Shuberts’ Schoenfeld), and The King And I ($1 million at the nonprofit Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont). Even Broadway’s oldest ghost, The Phantom Of The Opera, at the Shubert’s Majestic, topped the $1 million mark by a hair. Disney’s The Lion King, at the Nederlanders’ Minskoff, was the top-grossing show, at $2.06 million.
Shows in smaller theaters also did well. Tony nominee Fun Home, at Circle In The Square, was SRO, doubling its weekly tally since opening and taking in $628K. Another Tony contender, Hand To God, improved $15K to $442K at the Shuberts’ Booth, marking 65% of potential and filling 89% of the seats. The Skylight revival with Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, at the Shuberts’ Golden, closed in on $800K, 93% of potential, with full houses.
Among the shows with plenty of seats to sell: Airline Highway (35% of potential), Vanessa Hudgens starrer Gigi (34% of potential), It Shoulda Been You (38% of potential), On The Town (36% of potential), The Visit (26% of potential) and Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2 (49% of potential).
Total gross for the final week of the season was $29.3 million for 33 shows, a 4% hike over last week’s $28.1 million. Top average ticket price for a musical was $177.30, for The Book Of Mormon; for a non-musical, it was $153.40 for The Audience.