B’way holiday cheer

Weekly B.O. bests 2003 despite slippage

Broadway finally played catchup. In recent weeks, legit’s weekly B.O. has underperformed levels set in 2003 and 2002 by about $2 million a session. Not so last week. Thirty-two shows brought in $15,944,234, which tops the $15.75 million take for mid-December 2003. As for the still-standing record of $16.13 million, that tally was produced in December 2002 when seven shows preemed and another 27 ran.

Broadway kept the pre-holiday damage to a minimum, as receipts shrank 4.82% or $807,238. A 5.5%-6.5% decrease is more the norm for this timeframe.

Unfortunately, the coming Christmas week is unlikely to bring the kind of major bonus the street has seen in recent years. With the holiday falling on the weekend, lucrative Friday and Saturday perfs should be adversely affected this time around. As 2004 winds down, look for only one behemoth week (Dec. 27-Jan. 1) at the box office.

Despite the traditional mid-December downturn, a few shows managed to buck the trend. “Wicked” ($1,241,941), “La Cage aux Folles” ($631,018), “Avenue Q” ($511,945), “Rent” ($407,355) and “Twelve Angry Men” ($331,217) all managed minor upticks. Other gainers increased their number of perfs over the previous week, which caused B.O. bumps at “Pacific Overtures” ($351,717), “Whoopi” ($187,894), “Laugh Whore” ($172,641) and “Golda’s Balcony” ($117,817).

Under the top 10, six-figure punches deflated “Fiddler on the Roof” ($507,330) and “Wonderful Town” ($489,756).

January closing notices did not prevent dips at “Bombay Dreams” ($414,719), down $41,523; “Dracula” ($226,774), down $56,222; or “‘night, Mother” ($160,260), down $20,302.

In their final week, “Reckless” ($250,674) and “The Good Body” ($112,495) took respective hits of $21,956 and $4,323.

And there was also slippage at “Movin’ Out” ($606,625), “Chicago” ($543,385), the previewing “Little Women” ($505,007) and “Dame Edna” ($348,180), which dropped $35,233.

New plays basically marked time. Although its $539,964 gross potential looms far overhead, “Gem of the Ocean” ($225,471) kept the damage to $4,333. With more room for slippage, “Democracy” ($436,349) fell $23,228.

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