B’way B.O. is a bear

Week sets record for time of the year; receipts up over 14% over 2001

March comes in like a lion or a lamb. But on Broadway, bear is the operable critter. Overall B.O. totaled $12,203,486, down $374,466 or 3.07% from the previous session. Nineteen of the 27 productions on the boards took hits, several sizable six-figure drops. The total box office decline would have been more precipitous if a few shows in previews had not increased their number of performances.

However, as for the big picture, the week managed to set an all-time record for this time of year. Broadway receipts were up 14.48% from a year ago for the same number of shows, with attendance up 4.58%.

Shows in previews were the news. “Oklahoma!” and “Sweet Smell of Success” increased skeds from one to seven perfs, which brought them respective totals of $671,468 and $477,366. Rodgers & Hammerstein performed at 85.1% capacity, with its average price ticket at $59.02. The Hunsecker redux did 67.5%, but at a higher price of $73.39.

Tickets for “The Goat” and “One Mo’ Time” discounted on an average in the $38 to $40 range, with seven perfs of Edward Albee bringing in $200,204 and five of the other doing $82,408, a $16,522 improvement from the previous session.

A full eight perfs of “Metamorphoses” grossed $190,094, while seven of “The Crucible” did $422,441. The Arthur Miller began heavily comped press previews, creating a $96,685 drop from the week before.

Several long-running musicals took the brunt of the overall decline. Drops of 20% to 25% from the week before were recorded by “42nd Street” (down $222,730) and “Rent” (down $100,304), with “Les Miserables” (down $126,713) and “The Phantom of the Opera” (down $165,412) taking hits in the 30% to 35% range. “Aida” and “Beauty and the Beast” also saw six-figure declines.

“Urinetown” fell $42,993 for a final $262,804, its lowest figures since early October.

“Proof” and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” each dropped midfive figures, giving them $279,539 and $302,451, respectively. Those numbers put the David Auburn just under last year’s B.O., but they mark a slight improvement from a year ago for the Charles Busch.

And prize for biggest box office uptick for the same number of perfs goes to “Elaine Stritch at Liberty.” The one-person show jumped $36,512 to close with $348,313 on its gross potential of $425,379.

“The Lion King” and “The Producers” were the usual sellouts, with “Mamma Mia!” at 92.9% capacity.

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