Broadway’s Summer Slump Continues With 6.6% Box Office Drop; ‘Paramour’ Gets Therapy

Cirque Du Soleil

The Broadway box office took another August dip last week, thanks at least in part to the reduced schedule at the Street’s biggest theater, the Lyric. That’s where Cirque du Soleil’s gypsies-and-gymnasts fusion show Paramour shut down temporarily, shaving off three performances this week (and a few more next week) as the creatives went back to the drawing board in hopes of fixing the underperforming extravaganza. The result was a $387K writedown from the previous week at the Ambassador Theatre Group’s 1,896-seat house.

It was gutsy of Scott Zeiger and his team at Cirque’s nascent theater division to take the long view on the $25-million  investment by the global entertainment powerhouse. The challenges are magnified by both the new season, which will be offering ticketbuyers plenty of new musical fare in the coming months, and competition from two Cirque shows soon to take up residence nearby: Kurios — Cabinet Of Curiosities on Randall’s Island beginning September 29 and running through the Thanksgiving holiday period, and the Avatar-inspired Toruk — The First Flight, for briefer stints, first in Brooklyn and then New Jersey. That’s a whole lotta twistin’ and tumblin’ for Cirque fans to choose from.

Leona Lewis as Grizabella in 'Cats.'
Leona Lewis as Grizabella in ‘Cats.’ Matthew Murphy

The reborn but wet-averse Cats also shaved its schedule (in this case just one performance, due to a water main break), causing a $187.6K dip but still playing to near-full houses at the Nederlander Organization’s Neil Simon Theatre. Disney’s shows — Aladdin, at the company-owned new Amsterdam, and The Lion King, at the Nederlanders’ Minskoff — had slightly off weeks, down $87K and $115k, respectively. It hardly mattered: Lion King still had full houses and grossed 6 percent above potential, while Aladdin was close behind in the percentages.

Some of the bright spots included a $14K uptick for The Humans in its new home at the Shuberts’ Gerald Schoenfeld and gains for two musicals showing holding power: Something Rotten! up $26K at Jujamcyn Theatres’ St. James, and On Your Feet!, up $36K at the Nederlanders’ Marquis. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was up $41.7K at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

Total Broadway box office income for Week 14 of the 2016-2017 season was $21.5 million for 25 shows, down $1.5 million, or 6.6 percent, from the previous week and 2.3 percent from the same week one year ago, according to figures release by the trade group Broadway League.

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