Unlike the slow-burn aftereffects of a Hollywood strike, a Broadway work stoppage has instant box office repercussions.
The stagehands’ walkout, called at 10 a.m. Saturday, wiped out weekend perfs for the majority of shows on the boards, knocking the performance tally for most of those productions down to four or five for the week ending Nov. 11.
Taking into account estimated grosses for “Young Frankenstein,” the total Rialto cume went down about one-third from the prior frame, falling about $6 million to $12.5 million.
Those estimates are rough — particularly for shows with low advance sales, plus all those limited-run plays that recently began perfs — but it’s not quite the catastrophe that will be felt if the strike continues and wipes out all the coming week’s shows.
Powered by strong reviews, “Cyrano de Bergerac” ($518,554) proved the healthiest holdout among affected shows, managing to hold onto 78% of the prior week’s biz in a five-perf frame. With six shows, “The Farnsworth Invention” ($216,407) was down by a relatively minor $40,000.
“The Little Mermaid” ($375,925) actually climbed more than $100,000 — the previewing tuner played three perfs last week before the strike hit, versus the initial two perfs logged the previous frame.
Among the productions to pull in half as much (or less) as they had the prior sesh were “The Lion King” ($507,570), “Mamma Mia!” ($413,926), “The Color Purple” ($345,244), “Spring Awakening” ($288,368) and “Monty Python’s Spamalot” ($271,308).
Tuners “The Drowsy Chaperone” ($190,529), “A Chorus Line” ($187,879), “Les Miserables” ($183,853), “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ($163,298), “Avenue Q” ($156,342) and “Rent” ($116,317) all fell below the $200,000 mark, as did some plays, including “A Bronx Tale” ($142,169).
Something of a silver lining came in boosted tallies for the eight productions still running, fueled by audience spillover from darkened shows.
“Mary Poppins” ($1,070,494), already poised for a strong weekend showing, went up about $220,000, and sales for “Xanadu” ($320,262) rose by half. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” ($275,239) climbed by about 40%.
“Young Frankenstein” (estimated $1.44 million) played a full eight perfs, but nonetheless saw receipts fall off from the prior week due to comps from press nights and the Nov. 8 opening.
The non-profit plays, also unaffected by the shutdown, didn’t exactly burn up the box office, although “Pygmalion” ($300,214) pulled in 95% capacity auds. “The Ritz” ($296,209) and “Mauritius” ($222,865) each got a bump, but neither was major.
“Cymbeline” ($231,017) went from four perfs the prior week to eight, thereby more than doubling it receipts.
Meanwhile, legiters, worried over the acrimonious tone set by producers and stagehands over the weekend, speculated about how long a strike would last, while the League of American Theaters and Producers postponed its upcoming national conference until the labor dispute is resolved.