It’s not as if Santa brought a big bag o’ coal to Times Square last week: Total box office gained a healthy 23 percent from the week before, and attendance perked up by 8 percent. Previous B.O. records fell at individual shows, as they often do in the holiday season, when families and tourists will splurge to get into pretty much any show with a curtain and a Playbill. Put the figures up against the same week one year ago, however — when there were 36 shows running compared with 37 last week — and the picture grows distinctly more ominous.
Total box office receipts (not counting credit card charges and other payments) last week were $36.27M, according to figures released by the trade group Broadway League. The same period in 2014 — both weeks included Christmas — took in $41M. That’s an 11.5 percent slide. And even with one additional show in place, attendance was down 6 percent from last year.
That’s the bad news, and with the inevitable shakeout of January/February and the arrival of new shows coming in on waves of good buzz from Out There, this could turn around in the spring. Meanwhile, if you’re Disney or Andrew Lloyd Webber, your four shows — two each — accounted for 21 percent of last week’s take, and only one of those shows is still in baby fat. Disney’s Aladdin took in $2.1 million at the New Amsterdam, with an average ticket price of $152.81 at the Mouse flagship theater. The Lion King took in $2.59 million at the Nederlander Organization’s Minskoff Theatre, where customers paid an average of $190.72 (still less than the Street-leading $216.23 average price for entry into The Book Of Mormon, at Jujamcyn Theatres’ Eugene O’Neill). Disney total for Week 31 of the 2015-2016 season: $4.7 million.
Lloyd Webber’s new School Of Rock was SRO with a bullet at the Shubert Organization’s Winter Garden Theatre and took in $1.5 million, almost half a million more than the previous week. And over at the Masked One’s lair in the Shuberts’ Majestic, the Phantom Of The Opera scaled the heights to $1.46 million, plus Social Security. Total take for the Lord and his hosts: $2.96 million.
As for Hamilton, it banked $1.84 million at the Nederlanders’ Richard Rodgers — that’s 38.2 percent above gross potential, at an average ticket price of $171.66. Newcomer Fiddler On The Roof is looking smash-like at the Shuberts’ Broadway Theatre, at capacity and gross potential on the wave of great notices.
Look for even bigger numbers after next week’s New Years Eve bonanza — and still a way to go before catching up to the past.