Griffiths' 'Chicago' bow highlights sleepy season

August arrived with all of its usual B.O. lethargy. Total receipts fell a minuscule $6,631 as 23 shows brought in a tally of $13,881,121. Those numbers were good enough to set a record for the time frame, but just barely. A year ago, the late July/early August session produced $13.7 million. The difference: seven shows. Back in summer 2002, there were 30 on the boards.

Last week, 12 productions lost B.O. ground from the previous session, but there was no major movement in either direction. Down only $38,909, “42nd Street” ($737,630) slipped the most. Floating in the opposite direction, “Big River” ($254,352) came out of its preem week to jump $54,583, the biggest gain of the week.

A good omen: “Avenue Q” ($209,916) defied the usual preem-week logic to grow its box office by $28,862 despite all those press comps. Gross potential, however, hovers far overhead at $431,940.

Griffiths kicks high in ‘Chi’

Melanie Griffiths’ stint in “Chicago” ($676,751) has pushed receipts there to within kicking distance of the show’s $687,460 gross potential. Boffo reviews for Griffith should make that latter number a reality in the very near future. As for last week, the long-running revival grabbed the No. 11 spot, edged out by the improbable B.O. winner “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” ($677,452). Both shows set house records at their respective theaters, the Ambassador and the Plymouth.

Down $35,195, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” ($656,342) spent one of its rare weeks off the top 10 chart, occupying the No. 13 slot, with “Beauty and the Beast” ($675,415) caught between it and “Chicago.” “Millie” looks unlikely to improve during the current session: Sutton Foster is on vacation.

Elsewhere under the top 10, there were minor B.O. improvements for “Man of La Mancha” ($506,419), “Say Goodnight Gracie” ($105,715) and “Take Me Out” ($307,435). Equally minor downticks affected “Cabaret” ($347,996), “Enchanted April” ($155,807), “Phantom of the Opera” ($650,005), “Rent” ($403,657) and “Urinetown” ($299,860).

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