Labor intensive B.O.

Broadway's pre-holiday boom blasts record

Broadway had no problem demolishing its previous record of $11.8 million for the pre-Labor Day session. Set in the economic boom days of summer 2000, those B.O. numbers fell by the wayside as 28 shows last week churned out a whooping $14,103,787. Paid attendance came in at 229,542, up about 19,000 from two years ago.

Why the big upswing? One reason is that there were five more productions on the boards than in 2000. Also, four closings (“Contact,” “The Full Monty,” “Noises Off,” “Private Lives”) and one suspension (“The Goat”) created B.O. bonanzas for all five.

Unseasonably cool, wet weather kept New Yorkers off the beach and in the city over the holiday weekend. And word of mouth remains very strong for a couple of new shows: “Frankie and Johnny” and “Hairspray,” which joined “The Lion King” and “Mamma Mia!” in the sold-out column.

On the downside

What appears not to have materialized over this holiday weekend was some huge invasion from beyond the Hudson River. Those bellwether tourist shows “Les Miserables” ($359,044) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($546,208) ran counter to the upward trend and shrank about five figures each at the box office.

Down $23,618, “Rent” also took a dip, but its somewhat suppressed $425,269 tally can be attributed to lots of reviewer comps for Joey Fatone. “The Producers” ($1,121,419) and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” ($849,473) may be more tourist-driven than originally thought. They took respective hits of $5,291 and $13,957.

Then there is “The Boys From Syracuse,” which looks to be one of Roundabout’s weaker B.O. entries. Down $8,084, it grossed $260,141 against a potential of $504,680.

Tuners hit high notes

Elsewhere, musicals gained ground. Under the Top 10, “Cabaret” ($431,971), “Chicago” ($438,976), “Into the Woods” ($434,537) and “Urinetown” ($338,520) all improved, as did the just-closed “Contact” ($314,952) and “The Full Monty” ($471,602), which shot up $77,074 in its final week.

Somewhere off in left field remains the troubled “I’m Not Rappaport,” which fell $8,783 to finish with only $104,187. Not a good sign: The Herb Gardner revival was the only play on Broadway last week to fall at the box office.

As for the other happy eight, they all enjoyed five-figure upticks: “The Graduate” ($367,722), “Metamorphoses” ($206,487), “Proof” ($229,725), “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” ($271,886) and “Frankie and Johnny” ($444,329), which set another house record for a play at the Belasco Theater.

And as to plays that shuttered Sept. 1, it sometimes helps to call it quits: Up $38,301, “Noises Off” grossed $252,176 and “Private Lives,” which sustained a huge $84,423 bounce its final week, did $387,051. And in their final week, stars Bill Pullman and Mercedes Ruehl gave “The Goat” its second best session at the box office: $211,685, up $46,626 from the previous week. Sally Field and Bill Irwin begin perfs in the Edward Albee drama on Sept. 13.

Broadway can expect a big drop at the box office this week. Just counting the shows that shuttered on Sept. 1, total receipts will fall at least $1,637,466. Add to that the usual Labor Day dropoff and anticipated low attendance due to both the upcoming NFL kickoff in Times Square on Thursday and Rosh Hashanah on Friday-Saturday.

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