B’way takes big dip as ‘700,’ ‘Caesar’ shutter

Broadway Grosses

Without Billy Crystal and Denzel Washington, Broadway took a big $1,533,367 plunge during Week 3 (June 13-19), its receipts down 8.36%. Most of the slippage could be attributed to the absence of the movie stars’ respective shows, “700 Sundays” and “Julius Caesar,” which shuttered the previous session.

Otherwise, the week’s $16,802,493 tally set a record for the mid-June frame, up $1 million and $3 million, respectively, from 2004 and 2003. Paid attendance came to 248,834, which topped the previous years’ numbers by 10,000-25,000.

Three weeks into the 2005-06 season, it is the same story: New product dazzles, while revivals continue to struggle.

First, the good news:

“Doubt” ($544,176) and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” ($418,515) were up $5,053 and $13,472, respectively.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” ($813,300), “The Light in the Piazza” ($530,207) and “Monty Python’s Spamalot” ($951,834) were off a little, but all three continued to do biz above 90% capacity, with the Camelot spoof going clean. Due to contractual obligations elsewhere, John Lithgow was out for four perfs of “Scoundrels.”

After great spring-break business, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” ($881,706) had begun to look soft in May. Now, with school out, the kiddie show posted last week’s biggest gain, up $92,145 to do 86.2% capacity in the gargantuan Hilton Theater.

And now for the bad news: Not even closing notices could spike the box office at two play revivals. Closing July 3, “The Glass Menagerie” ($164,765) fell an additional $14,327. Shuttering the same day, “A Streetcar Named Desire” ($253,615) slipped $8,397. Even more ominous, despite advertising “last weeks,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” ($258,928) gained only $2,235 as it went from seven to eight perfs.

Although no notices have been posted, “On Golden Pond” ($162,052) and “Steel Magnolias” ($174,343) took the biggest hits, down $54,642 and $52,363. At least “Pond” had the good excuse of James Earl Jones being out for seven of eight perfs due to illness.

The 21 musicals grossed $13,708,997 for 81.6% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 197,744 at 83.5% of capacity.

The 12 plays grossed $3,093,496 for 18.4% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 51,090 at 60.8% of capacity.

Average paid admission was $69.33 for musicals, $60.55 for plays, and $67.52 for all shows.

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