B’way gets Dec. gift of bounteous B.O. biz

Bright week on Broadway

Finally, some good news on Broadway.

After a desultory autumn at the box office, Gotham legit defied the traditional December trend and registered a big bounce last week. Thirty-one shows produced a $16,751,472 tally, up $1,054,623 or 6.72% over the previous session.

Box office for the second week of December typically decreases 2%-3%. Last week, the receipts and 247,005 in paid attendance were in line with 2003 for this timeframe. However, with a whopping 35 shows on the boards, 2002 brought in a loftier $17.59 million and 267,925 in attendance.

Although nine shows decreased their overall take last week, most others saw their fortunes rise. Much of the overall increase, however, could be attributed to two factors:

Billy Crystal played seven perfs instead of six of “700 Sundays” ($775,486), creating an additional $156,897 in receipts. That awesome tally puts the play in the No. 7 slot on the top 10 chart and betters the best week of the 2003 revival of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by almost $100,000. Average ticket price for Crystal came to $96.53, about $12 more than No. 1 “Wicked” ($1,228,233).

It’s the rare show that begins its preview period in December, but “Little Women” ($550,889) defied the winter odds to put in a full eight perfs last week. With its gross potential set at $843,952, the tuner had an average ticket price of $66.67 and played to a springlike 84.5% cap.

That Jan. 1 closing notice did nothing for “Bombay Dreams” ($456,242), which dropped $30,339. Another January shuttering, “Golda’s Balcony” ($86,768), could blame its $27,552 dip on doing only six perfs as opposed to seven last week.

Other January closers, however, saw upward action: “42nd Street” ($811,906), up $90,888; “Dracula” ($282,996), up $26,789; and “The Good Body” ($116,818), up $2,040.

Comps usually take a chunk out of a show’s preem week. Not so with “La Cage aux Folles” ($626,271), which grew $7,184 to grab the No. 11 slot. Ditto “Gem of the Ocean” ($229,804), which jumped $9,666.

For the second week in a row, Brooke Shields helped to set a nonholiday record for “Wonderful Town” ($614,599), up $16,228.

Other gainers under the top 10 included “Chicago” ($582,046), “Rent” ($397,460), “Twelve Angry Men” ($324,473), “Pacific Overtures” ($292,898), “Reckless” ($272,630) and “Fiddler on the Roof” ($608,290), which gained the most of the lot, up $67,420.

On the other hand, “Whoopi” ($105,353) took the biggest hit, down $158,390 due to a three-perf sked. The ailing Whoopi Goldberg is expected back Wednesday.

“Brooklyn” ($324,759) and “‘night, Mother” ($180,562) defied the week’s upward trend to register decreases, down $28,579 and $4,782, respectively.

“Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance” ($383,413) and “Mario Cantone: Laugh Whore” ($164,134), latter doing six instead of its usual seven, also saw their receipts slide. At Lincoln Center, crix’ comps over the weekend took a $66,019 whack out of “The Rivals” ($248,985), which opens Thursday.

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