January puts chill on B.O.

Broadway Grosses

The customary January doldrums tightened their grip on Broadway in Week 33 (Jan. 7-13) as grosses dipped by 25% overall to total $15,474,798. That news was made even grimmer by comparison with the same frame last year, when 28 shows (as opposed to the current 30) tallied $17,341,680.

Musicals were down virtually across the board, including Rialto leaders “Wicked” (off by 6% to $1,400,269) and “Jersey Boys” (minus 5% to $1,172,218).

Disney’s trio of tuners was a little harder hit, demonstrating the effect of departing holiday tourist dollars. “The Lion King” slid by 21% to $1,024,955 and “Mary Poppins” by 23% to $834,991. However, newcomer “The Little Mermaid,” which officially opened Thursday, can attribute most of its 18% decline to opening night, press and industry comps. Total for the marine musical was a solid $922,503.

“The Phantom of the Opera,” “Hairspray,” “Legally Blonde,” “The Color Purple,” “Chicago” and “A Chorus Line” all saw drops ranging from 28% to an alarming 49% at “The Color Purple,” where the exit of headliner Fantasia appears to have hurt box office. Sole tuner to buck the downward trend was long-runner “Avenue Q,” with a modest uptick of 9% and a $367,581 gross.

Slight gains were made by several of the plays on the boards, including critical fave “August: Osage County,” which climbed by 11% to $603,293. Transferred from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company, the limited engagement is now selling tickets through April 13 at the Imperial.

Small boosts also were seen by “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “The Homecoming,” “The Seafarer” and “A Bronx Tale.” But the ten shows that grossed less than $350,000 — compared with just five in the same week last season — account for the $2 million downturn.

Best of the new blood currently previewing was David Mamet’s political comedy, “November,” starring Nathan Lane, which was up 9% to $393,713. In their first full week of preview perfs, Roundabout’s “The 39 Steps” and Manhattan Theater Club’s “Come Back, Little Sheba” both saw modest starts of $209,777 and $152,027, respectively.

The 23 musicals grossed $12,334,418 ($13,684,418 estimated) for 79.7% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 164,784 at 76.9% capacity and average paid admission of $74.85.

The eight plays grossed $3,140,380 for 20.3% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 50,326 at 69.6% capacity and average paid admission of $62.40.

Average paid admission was $71.94 for all shows.

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