UPDATED 1:45 PM with more information throughout: As Broadway holiday-show schedules last week boosted from the usual eight performances to nine — or, in the case of The Illusionists, 13 — the news of the week was a sky-high tally in both dollars and census: More bucks ($43.06 million) and more bodies (357,718) for the week ending Sunday and including New Year’s gave the Street its biggest week ever. Anything less would have been cause for hand-wringing and garment-rending. Led by newcomer Hamilton and old-comer Wicked, both of which tallied a Street-high 47% above their gross potential, Broadway had much to cheer.
All but three of the 38 shows running boasted increases over Christmas week, many of them substantial: Finding Neverland, with nine performances, had its biggest week ever (up $448.3K to $1.48 million at the Nederlander Organization’s Lunt-Fontanne). Disney’s twofer included The Lion King — Broadway’s top-grossing show for the third year in a row — at $2.9 million in the Nederlanders’ Minskoff with an average ticket price of $189.40, and Aladdin, at the Mouse’s flagship New Amsterdam, raking in $2.4 million and an average ticket price of $154.30. Not even Star Wars can claim ticket prices like that. (And both shows are available exclusively in 3D Live format.)
Of course you want to know about Hamilton, and of course that show didn’t disappoint: The Lin-Manuel Miranda musical took in $1.96 million for just eight performances at the Nederlanders’ Richard Rodgers Theatre, with an average ticket price of $182.39. Recently opened Fiddler On The Roof, at the Shubert Organization’s Broadway, pulled in $1.7 million for nine performances and an average ticket price of $119.74. Special attraction The Illusionists, at the Nederlanders’ Neil Simon, played a vaudeville-worthy 13 shows for its final week, taking in a house record of $1.8 million.
At Jujamcyn Theatres’ St. James, Something Rotten! was up $150K for eight performances, to $1.15 million. Andrew Lloyd Webber had a barge full of dough to send home with The Phantom Of The Opera, at the Shuberts’ Majestic, warbling to the tune of $1.65 million for nine performances while School Of Rock: The Musical continued to build at the Shuberts’ Winter Garden, taking in $1.7 million.
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The Book Of Mormon retained its hold on the priciest ticket around, $205.62 at Jujamcyn’s Eugene O’Neill; top price for a non-musical was $131.32 for to see Al Pacino in David Mamet’s China Doll at the Shuberts’ Schoenfeld.
Any complaints? Well, there’s this: Despite all those big numbers, Broadway in calendar year 2015 still managed to come up slightly short over calendar year 2014, according to figures released by the trade group Broadway League. Total gross one year ago was $1.362 billion, versus 2015’s $1.354 billion — a shortfall of just $8 million, to be sure, but a shortfall nonetheless. Attendance dropped 1%, or 150,000 people, to 12.98 million, from 13.13 million in 2014.
Sunday saw the shuttering of six shows, and we bid a fond, expletive-laden farewell to London-bound Hand To God, along with Dames At Sea, Lord Of The Dance, Sylvia, The Illusionists and Thérèse Raquin.
Totals for Week 32 of the 2015-16 season: $43.06 million for 38 shows, up 19% from the week before; attendance was 357,718, also a 19% increase from the week before.
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