Ticketbuyers clamoring to be in the room where it happens — namely the Richard Rodgers Theatre, home of the season’s runaway blockbuster Hamilton — helped push the Broadway box office to its highest tally ever as the 2015-2016 season came to a close on Sunday. Total attendance reached 13,317,980 and Broadway shows rang up $1,373,253,725 in grosses, making it the best attended and highest grossing season in Broadway recorded history.
Adding to the record was the total of 1,648 playing weeks. The $1.37 billion gross marks an increase of 0.6%, while attendance inched up 1.6% over last year, according to figures released today by the trade group Broadway League.
A closer look shows a fairly flat set of figures for the past few seasons in terms of both attendance and dollars, suggesting that even accounting for the fact that tourists comprise 70% of the audience, the overall pool of ticketbuyers hasn’t expanded very much even as prices rise with “dynamic” pricing — i.e. premium tickets — and shows come and go.
Tellingly, although grosses for the final week of the season were up nearly 10% over the week before (up $2.5 million to $28.84 million), they were down 1.5% from the same week a year ago.
It was a great week for the season’s winners: Hamilton gained $78K to $1.76 million at the Nederlander Organization’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. Waitress, at the Nederlanders’ Brooks Atkinson, had its best week yet at $982.7K and every seat filled. Two non-musicals — The Humans, at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes and Eclipsed, at the Shubert Organization’s Golden — made significant gains as well, with The Humans up $21K to $483.4K and full houses, and Eclipsed up $40.7K to $332K, still modest but filling three-quarters of the seats. Bright Star, at the Shuberts’ Cort, also inched up, taking in $492.5K, up $15.5K from the previous week.
The highest grossing show of the year? That would be Disney’s The Lion King , as it has been for the previous three years. How high? $102.7 million, $10 million more than number 2, Wicked. Which is not bad for an old cat.
From here on out, it’s all about the Tonys as ballots go out to 850-odd voters in anticipation of the Tony Awards on June 12, telecast live by CBS from the Beacon Theatre.