'Couple' even bigger than expected

NEW YORK — And Broadway thought Billy Crystal was boffo at the box office.

“The Odd Couple,” starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, sold $7 million in tickets on Monday. The Neil Simon revival is offered through American Express to its cardholders via Ticketmaster and the new Yahoo! Web site, American Express Presents Broadway. Most of the sales — $6 million — came from the Web site and cover the production’s first 18 weeks. The final block of six weeks goes on sale later this month through AmEx.

Group sales have been offered for weeks, and the cume there comes to $11 million.

The lofty cume of $18 million includes premium-price tickets, offered at $250 — a virtual bargain compared to the $300 top at “Wicked” and “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” which, after all, are musicals.

The limited engagement begins previews Oct. 4 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater and runs through March.

Considering the current pace of sales, Lane and Broderick won’t need the movie tie-in of “The Producers,” which opens in December, to help sell tickets. In fact, their legit show may be a shut-out for non-AmEx cardholders. “Odd Couple” tickets go on sale to the general public July 5. Unless the duo extends beyond their current six months, the Joe Mantello-helmed comedy should be sold out by the end of June, three months before its first preview.

Art Carney and Walter Matthau starred as Felix and Oscar in the original 1965 production of “The Odd Couple.”

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