It’s survival of the fittest — the Broadway pie gets cut into smaller pieces as new shows come to town.
The 2003-04 season has finally caught up to the high number of productions on the boards a year ago. The grand total came to 28 last week, with 19 taking a dip at the box office. Despite the many decreases, overall receipts rose $1,004,366, or 7.32%, for a final tally of $14,718,833. Those dollars set a record this time frame, beating last year’s $14.4 million for the same number of shows.
Most of the bump from the previous session came from “Golda’s Balcony” ($281,332), which went from three perfs to its regular sked of eight, making for a windfall increase of $220,989.
Shows putting in their first previews also contributed to the overall uptick: There were four perfs of “The Caretaker” ($95,656) and five of Jackie Mason’s “Laughing Room Only” ($135,331).
‘Oz’ helps the cause
More bounce: “The Boy From Oz” ($829,723) added $106,598 as the tuner came out of its heavily comped opening week. Rosie O’Donnell helped a little there. When she canceled the weekend previews of her “Taboo,” the munificent producer bought tickets to “Boy” across West 45th Street for all disappointed Boy George fans. (Not to mention a few ambulance chasers smelling stage blood.)
Other gainers included the previewing “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” ($443,676), up $1,077. Also in previews, “The Violet Hour” ($217,697) went from five to a full eight perfs, with another $77,633 to show for it.
“Nine” ($542,358) stopped its post-Antonio Banderas decline to rise $2,123. The new company, led by John Stamos, gets reviewed Oct. 29.
On opposite ends of the theatrical spectrum, “Aida” ($782,030) and “Avenue Q” ($358,890) rounded out the list of seven B.O. gainers, seeing respective increases of $21,908 and $12,827.
As with 18 other shows last week, “The Producers” ($905,099) took a dip, down $40,763. Still, the tuner retained its No. 4 slot and remains within shooting distance of “Mamma Mia!” ($937,909), which slipped $28,577.
‘Producers’ strong despite cast shuffle
Despite dire predictions that the January return of Nathan & Matthew would erode box office this fall, receipts here stand pretty much where they have all year long. Also, the last-minute replacement of Lewis J. Stadlen with Fred Applegate (starting Oct. 7) has created no ripples in the B.O. pool. As for “The Lion King” ($1,110,679) grossing so much more, Broadway loves family entertainment best. Period.
How did the other adult musicals fare last week?
A few took tiny four-figure dips: “Cabaret” ($389,806), “Movin’ Out” ($645,050) and “Rent” ($312,725). “Chicago” ($589,721) dipped somewhat more, off $37,931.
Under the top 10, four family tuners hovered just under the radar, off five figures from the week before: “Beauty and the Beast” ($609,595), “Little Shop of Horrors” ($419,223), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($563,236) and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” ($644,523).
Most plays also took five-figure tumbles: “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” ($122,360), “Take Me Out” ($246,887) and “The Retreat From Moscow” ($251,688), which fell $13,068 during its heavily comped preem week.
Putting in only seven perfs, “Wicked” ($732,199) still looked wild but dropped $89,049 due to one less preview.