Aided by a 53rd week in the year (added every seven years for statistical reasons), plus aggressive pricing of certain shows, Broadway box office ended 2017-18 up 17.1% over the prior year.
Total grosses reached $1,697,458,795, compared with $1,449,399,149 in 2016-17, according to figures released by the Broadway League. Attendance of 13,792,614 gained 3.9% over the previous year, and gross potential and capacity both increased, to 81.6% and 89%, respectively.
Without the 53rd week, grosses would have been up 14.4% and attendance would have risen 1.6%. In 2010-11, the last time a 53rd week was added, attendance reached 12.53 million and grosses totaled $1.081.
In a year marked by surging demand (and accompanying lofty pricing) for a select group of shows like Springsteen on Broadway, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and (still) Hamilton, the industry found that audiences could still be lured to quality offerings. Before the full-year grosses were released, the producers of the musical adaptation Mean Girls and Edward Albee revival Three Tall Women separately announced their shows had set house records.
The average paid admission in 2017-18 was $123.07, according to the League.
For the week ending May 27, the League said, overall receipts totaled $39,431,767, up a modest $600,000 or so from the week before. With Memorial Day bringing summer-like weather to the East Coast (Saturday’s high in New York City reached 93 degrees), holiday distractions could not have helped box office.
The Tony Award nominations earlier this month favored many shows with built-in awareness, including Mean Girls, SpongeBob SquarePants, Carousel and Angels in America. Some critics and theater vets have despaired lately about the state of original work, a conversation that will surely continue regardless of who emerges as the biggest winner at the June 10 Tonys. Even as it does, the uptick for theater grosses validates the strategies of a wide range of stakeholders, from producers to theater impresarios to New York tourism promoters. It is also welcome news for CBS, which broadcasts the Tonys, though the recent ratings hits for live award shows is a trend in the opposite direction.