Broadway Box Office Plummets With The Mercury And Post-Holiday Blues

They’re called trends for a reason — the darned things repeat themselves with startling regularity. Attendance and ticket sales at Broadway shows fell off sharply in the wake of the Christmas-to-New-Year’s record breaker from the week before. And if there is little surprise in that, it’s worth looking at some of the figures that don’t always get the same attention as the tallies of sales and number of bodies in seats. What’s really eye-opening is a look at just how much the holiday revelers paid to see the big shows. They make the return to “Broadway normal” look like bargains.

Take Disney’s two blockbusters, for example. Aladdin, at the company’s flagship New Amsterdam Theatre, sold every seat to performances during both the holiday week and Week 33 of the season, which ended Sunday. With one fewer performance this past week, sales were off just over $1 million, as you’d expect. But Genie gifted the show with an average ticket price of $154.30 during the holiday and $99.97 last week, or 54 percent less. Similarly, The Lion King, at the Nederlander Organization’s Minskoff Theatre, commanded an average ticket price of $189.40 for Christmas presents, but $134.31 last week — a 41 percent drop.

MatildaTo be sure, added performances and jacked-up prices are part-and-parcel of the holiday business. But the increases are extraordinary in the cold light of January. Another family-targeted show, Wicked, at the Nederlanders’ Gershwin, had an average ticket price of $171.74 during the holiday week, $118.29 last week — a drop of 45 percent. Similarly, Matilda, at the Shubert Organization’s Shubert Theatre, had a rare SRO week during the holidays, when people paid on average $120.25. Last week you could have had your pick of seats — the theater was below 80 percent of capacity — for $76.66 average price, a Street-leading drop of a whopping 57 percent. Something Rotten! at Jujamcyn’s St. James, got $116.61 on average during the holidays, $80.78 last week — a difference of 38 percent.

The holiday markup of  some other hits wasn’t quite as bold, or bald, partly because they cost so much in the best of circumstances. Hamilton‘s average ticket price last week at the Nederlanders’ Richard Rodgers was $159.23, off 14 percent from the holidays. The Book Of Mormon, at Jujamcyn’s Eugene O’Neill, was $171.23, 20 percent below the previous week’s Street-high average of $205.62.

Total revenue for Week 33, according to figures released by the trade group Broadway League,was $26.33 million for 32 shows, down 39 percent from the week before (but up $2.6 million, or 11 percent, from the same week a year ago). Attendance dropped 98K from the week before, or 38 percent (but was up 10 percent over the same time last year). Two plays from the Broadway nonprofits are in previews: A revival of Noises Off, opening Thursday at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines, and Our Mother’s Brief Affair, opening January 20 at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman.

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