Blizzard blankets B’way

Great whiteout has the B.O. seeing red

How big a bite did the blizzard take out of the Broadway B.O.?

Twenty-six shows brought in $11,922,907, down $2,199,874, or 15.58%, from the previous session. Paid attendance came to 183,861, off 12.6%. Although some slippage from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is expected, $2.2 million is not typical. In fact, it just about sums up the snow damage.

The mid-January time frame in 2004 and 2003 produced respective tallies of $13.9 million and $13.3 million, with paid attendance ranging from 202,972 to 218,110. In addition to 10 inches of white stuff, last week’s biz got hit with tons of no-shows and cancellations.

Fortunately, no production had to cancel perfs, unlike in Boston, where up to 30 inches of snow dropped (and drifted), forcing Disney to cancel both Sunday perfs of “The Lion King.” In Toronto, “Mamma Mia!” went on as skedded.

Winter storms create schizoid theatergoing patterns. While Broadway’s two Saturday perfs were adversely affected, tourists stranded in the city took up much of the slack and went to the theater in droves on Saturday. When the weather cleared on Sunday, however, everyone was either flying out or afraid to venture into Gotham. Most of last week’s B.O. plummet came from near-empty theaters at the Sunday matinee.

“Beauty and the Beast” ($423,937) recorded the week’s biggest drop, with receipts down $171,761. Disney reported approximately 1,000 no-shows or cancellations for the Sunday matinee. Its theater, the Lunt-Fontanne, seats 1,509.

Down $125,643, “The Producers” ($696,645) slipped under $700,000 (on a regular eight-perf sked) for only the second time in its history.

Lucky Billy Crystal. Despite the title, his “700 Sundays” ($810,281) does not perform on Sunday. The solo act dropped a minor $41,009 but managed to sell out. Cancellations were also snapped up at “Wicked” ($1,232,405) and “Avenue Q” ($482,325), which performed at 100% and 96% capacity, respectively.

A never-on-Sunday sked also helped “The Phantom of the Opera” ($632,041), which slipped only $26,974. The movie’s presence has helped to keep legit sales buoyant this month.

Who doesn’t love “Avenue Q”? But it never bodes well for the rest of the Rialto when the tiny tuner makes the top 10. Bubbling under, several big tuners put in their worst session in months: In addition to “Beauty and the Beast,” “Movin’ Out” ($479,206), “Wonderful Town” ($373,957), “Chicago” ($345,148) and “Rent” ($273,734) all took six-figure hits. Off $163,864, “Little Women” ($342,638) had the good excuse of heavily comped critics nights and its Sunday preem.

“Brooklyn” ($213,326) fell less, down $76,126, but has fewer pounds to shed. It performed at 52.5% capacity and ranked fourth from the bottom on the B.O. chart.

Resting under the funky street tuner were “Whoopi” ($189,230), “Gem of the Ocean” ($185,270) and “Brooklyn Boy” ($159,921), which rose $40,673 due to its full eight-perf sked. The previous week, it started with five previews.

Other nontuners saw their receipts slashed: “Democracy” ($275,617), down $85,452; “The Rivals” ($257,862), down $66,071; “Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance” ($250,845), down $84,462; and “Twelve Angry Men” ($291,097), which has extended for the fifth time, to April 3, despite last week’s aberrant $54,348 drop.

There’s some good news for the still-previewing “Good Vibrations” ($316,732). The Beach Boys show experienced a minor slide last week, down only $31,441, as receipts coast along at under half the tuner’s gross potential ($673,960).

In its penultimate session, “Pacific Overtures” ($303,134) dipped $46,137. The revival will not extend beyond its original Jan. 30 end date, having performed about $100,000 less per week than the Roundabout’s last Sondheim-Weidman offering, “Assassins,” at Studio 54.

Talkbacks have become de rigueur for Broadway’s more “serious” fare. The Roundabout, however, has added a new wrinkle to the chat phenom. Beginning Feb. 1 at Tuesday perfs, the cast of “Twelve Angry Men” will be joined by jury members from the Martha Stewart and Tyco trials, among others.

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