Python play takes in $2 mil at Friday box office

NEW YORK — “Monty Python’s Spamalot” came close to a B.O. holy grail.

The highly anticipated Broadway musical took in $2 million at the box office Friday, one of the highest single-day takes of all time.

That figure adds to the tuner’s huge advance, which had reached $20 million (including group sales), by the time of its opening night perf on Thursday.

Saturday’s take was $650,000 and Sunday’s was estimated to reach $400,000, according to a spokesman for the production.

“Spamalot’s” post-opening take did not match that of “The Producers,” which broke a record by selling more than $3 million in tickets the day after it opened. The previous record had been “The Lion King’s” post-opening take of $2.7 million.

“Spamalot” did beat the day-after-opening take of another smash, “Hairspray,” which wrapped $1.5 million on Aug. 16, 2002.

However, the day after opening isn’t always a good barometer of long-term success. “Wicked” grabbed only $500,000 but went on to become a huge hit. The tuner now has an advance of $33 million, extraordinary for a show that has been running almost 17 months.

“The Producers” broke its own record by wrapping $3.6 the day after it announced the return of stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

“Spamalot’s” reviews on Friday were good to mixed. David Rooney in Daily Variety wrote that “the irreverent Arthurian romp’s brash, lunatic spirit is impossible to ignore and almost as hard to resist” but that “the show is more memorable on a scene-by-scene basis than as a somewhat forced package.”

Ben Brantley in the New York Times called it “amusing, agreeable, forgettable.” Clive Barnes’ rave in the New York Post called it “Gorgeously silly. Superlative and better.” Gordon Cox in Newsday wrote, “The unevenly amusing Arthurian antics are presented with so much panache, however, that it’s probably churlish to complain.”

“Spamalot,” based on the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” was written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, and is directed by Mike Nichols. It stars Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria.

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