B.O. betters holiday weekend receipts by 7%

With B.O. up 7.63%, Broadway defied past trends and improved on the previous session’s holiday weekend.

Much but not all of the $948,216 increase could be attributed to new shows beginning perfs or adding to their number of previews. Total receipts for 26 productions came to $12,434,248, which is right in line with last year’s total of $12.2 million for the same number of shows. And the B.O. strength is more than just inflated ticket prices: With paid attendance last week at 205,009, those figures are a nominal improvement over late-February 2001.

In a rare switch, several shows actually built on their Presidents Day weekend numbers. Modest five-figure gains were recorded by “Contact,” “The Full Monty,” “Mamma Mia,” “Rent” and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” with more impressive upticks registered by “Les Miserables” at $489,188 (up $64,153) and “The Phantom of the Opera” at $644,040 (up $85,507). Those dollar figures put Broadway’s two longest-running shows back in profitable territory after the late January/early February doldrums.

“42nd Street” managed the session’s biggest leap, up $101,321 for a final $903,867.

There were nine backsliders from the previous session, ranging from small four-figure downticks for “Noises Off” and “The Producers” to the big hit of $78,421 sustained by “Chicago.”

Despite a heavily comped opening week, “Elaine Stritch: At Large” held steady, down only $3,166 to finish with $311,801. “Bea Arthur on Broadway” marked time, up $178 to close with $238,560. Performing to 98.5% capacity, the Alan Alda starrer “QED” made $102,835 on its two perfs at Lincoln Center, only $10,000 under its gross potential.

Biggest anticipation centered on the five shows in previews: “Oklahoma!” sold out its first perf, bringing in $128,814, while “Sweet Smell of Success” did 66.3% capacity on its initial Broadway foray, which translated into $82,765. “One Mo’ Time,” on the other hand, wracked up a skimpy $65,886 for its first five performances.

“The Crucible” and “The Goat” each went from two to seven previews. Edward Albee’s new one did $197,455 against its potential of $366,230, while the Arthur Miller revival came in with $519,126 on its $659,375 potential. With its average price ticket at $69.98, “The Crucible” had the fourth highest APT on Broadway.

In addition to “Oklahoma!,” the sell-outs were “The Lion King” and “The Producers.”

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