NEW YORK — Disney’s “The Lion King” leapt into the Broadway record books last weekend, wrapping an estimated $4 million to become the fastest, biggest ticket-seller in New York’s legit history.
On Friday, the day after the show’s opening at the New Amsterdam Theater, near-universal critical raves and massive media coverage pushed “Lion’s” daily wrap to an astonishing $2.7 million. The one-day box office figure shatters the previous Broadway record of $1.2 million set by Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in 1994.
A Disney spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the box office figures. The totals were revealed to Daily Variety by a source close to the production.
To put a perspective on the “Lion King” tally, the largest single wrap ever taken by megahit “The Phantom of the Opera” was $921,000, “Rent” scored $728,000 and last year’s hit, “Titanic,” wrapped $355,000 the day after it won a Tony Award for best musical. “The Who’s Tommy” sold $550,000 in tickets the day following an appearance on the 1993 Tony broadcast. (The show lost the best musical nod to “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” which had a daily wrap of $400,000 post-Tony.)
Last Friday’s $2.7 million wrap is all the more impressive because the figure includes only $136,000 in group-sale reservations. In other words, nearly the entire wrap is hard cash. The figure reps approximately 46,000 tickets sold. Disney apparently had to install additional phone lines and computers to keep up with demand.
Director Julie Taymor’s staging of “Lion King” is thought to have cost Disney at least $15 million, although some estimates approach $20 million. Prior to opening, the show’s advance sales totaled more than $16 million, but with weekend sales the advance apparently grew well into the $20 millions.
Even prior to the show’s opening, “Lion King” was wrapping as much as $200,000 a day, selling seats through winter and spring. A new block of tickets through the end of September went on sale the morning after the show opened.