Broadway Box Office Takes Post-Christmas Tumble; ‘Waitress’ Sells Out Final Week

Joan Marcus

A post-Christmas Broadway box office fell like so many dry pine needles last week, with most shows taking fairly significant tumbles as ticket prices settled back to reality. In all, total grosses for the 36 productions dropped 23% from Christmas week to $43,095,641.

Attendance of 317,679 was down only 9%, putting the box office blame on those lower ticket prices. The average price for last week (ending Jan. 5) was $135, compared to the soaring Christmas week average of $160.

Still, many theaters were filled with New Year’s week revelers, with Hadestown, West Side Story, Wicked, Tina, Beetlejuice and Jagged Little Pill among the shows playing to full or nearly-full houses (see below for the complete SRO roster).

A raft of shows bid farewell to Broadway after the first week of the new year, as previously announced closings brought down curtains. Gone are Derren Brown: Secret, The Lightning Thief, Tootsie and Waitress, as well as limited run holiday fare A Christmas Carol, Slava’s Snowshow and The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays.

The three holiday shows were hit hard in the post-Christmas week. A Christmas Carol starring Campbell Scott had been building to terrific numbers in the weeks leading up to Dec. 25, but fell by $535,499 in the week after, taking only $418,556 and filling just 50% of seats.

‘The Lightning Thief’ Jeremy Daniel

Also in their final weeks, both Tootsie and The Lightning Thief were down from the previous week’s bluster, with the former grossing $955,611 and the latter, filling an impressive 97% of seats, taking a small financial tumble to $655,762.

The long-running Waitress, which closed along with most of the others on Jan. 5, bucked the downward trend, with audiences filling the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for a last look at the smash musical. In its final week, Waitress grossed $1,316,747, 99% of its potential. Attendance was standing room only.

Some high-profile recent arrivals drew plenty of ticket-buyers for previews, if not always of the premium price variety. A Soldier’s Play, starring David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood, sold 98% of seats for seven performances at the American Airlines Theatre, but an average $58 ticket kept receipts to $286,010, about half of potential. Grand Horizons, starring Jane Alexander and James Cromwell at the Helen Hayes, filled 71% of seats, grossing $151,061. West Side Story, no surprise, sold out the Broadway Theatre, hitting potential at $1,730,917.

My Name is Lucy Barton, starring Laura Linney at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, played one preview for $65,298, filling 96% of seats. The play opens Jan. 15.

Beetlejuice set another house record at the Winter Garden Theatre, this time for a seven-performance week. The musical’s $1,435,799 broke the venue’s previous seven-perf record held by School of Rock ($1,140,205). In its 16th consecutive week of sold-out performances, Beetlejuice has now set house records at the Winter Garden for seven-, eight-, and nine-performance weeks.

Filling all seats last week (or nearly so, at 98% of capacity or more) were A Soldier’s Play, Aladdin, David Byrne’s American Utopia, Beetlejuice, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Freestyle Love Supreme, Frozen, Hadestown, Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Jagged Little Pill, Mean Girls, Moulin Rouge!, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, To Kill a Mockingbird, Waitress, West Side Story and Wicked.

Season to date, Broadway has grossed $1,103,300,049, down about 6% year to year. Total attendance to date is 8,920,398, about even with last season at this time.

All figures courtesy of the trade group Broadway League.

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