Broadway concluded its highest-grossing season ever on Sunday, with ticket sales for the 2016-17 season totaling a record $1.45 billion, a 5.5 percent increase over 2015-16. The previous record, $1.37 billion, was set in both prior seasons.
Those numbers, however, weren’t matched by a similar uptick in attendance, which has seen a steady, if small, fall-off over the same period. Attendance at all Broadway shows in 2016-17 was 13.27 million, compared with 13.32 million last season, according to figures released today by the trade group Broadway League.
The League pointed out that Broadway attendance still topped the combined total attendance of the 10 professional New York and New Jersey sports teams by more than 2.6 million.
The season included 45 new productions: 20 musicals (13 original, six revivals, one return engagement), 20 plays (10 original, nine revivals, one return engagement) and five specials. Of these productions, eight were not Tony Awards eligible, including the celebrated – and sold out – revival of Sunday in the Park with George, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford. The producers declined to make the limited run, at the newly re-opened Hudson Theatre, available to the pool of Tony voters.
Still to come is an accounting of how much capital was lost because of several costly flops including, most recently, Amélie, the musical that closed Sunday. The increase in grosses primarily reflects the impact of premium ticket sales at such blockbusters as Hamilton and this season’s revival of Hello, Dolly!, which opened with a record advance of more than $40 million in tickets to the Bette Midler-led show.
Individual figures for the final week of the season will be posted shortly.