NEW YORK — Presidents’ Day weekend brought a box office boost to Broadway in Week 38 (Feb. 9-15), with total sales rising almost $2 million to $14.4 million for 23 shows on the boards.Crowdpleasing tuners generally experienced the largest bumps, with perhaps the most notable rise coming from “Chicago” ($575,919) — which posted receipts that were a walloping 65% higher than the prior frame. (Halfway through the week the show also saw a cast change, with Melora Hardin ending her stint to be replaced by Charlotte d’Amboise.) Family-friendly Disney tuners also climbed sharply, particularly “The Lion King” ($1,050,722), which resumed its habitual spot in the millionaires’ club, and “Mary Poppins” ($784,125), rising about $200,000. Long-weekend biz helped push those figures up even though Disney’s Kids Go Free! initiative, which offers a no-charge child’s ticket for every adult ducat purchased, remained in effect for the sesh’s performance dates. Will Ferrell kept reeling in the crowds, with his George Bush comedy “You’re Welcome America …” ($846,507) breaking the house record at the Cort Theater for the second time. Previewing revival “Guys and Dolls” ($559,721) attracted solid crowds at 92% of capacity in its first full week of previews. But largely unheralded new offering “The Story of My Life” ($106,739) continued its struggle to attract auds before its opening. The week’s third previewing show, Jane Fonda starrer “33 Variations” ($246,337), registered fair biz for a new play in its first seven previews — although the 56% average capacity does not suggest a rabid aud for Fonda’s return to the boards. “Shrek the Musical” ($765,516) did middling biz, playing to auds about 75% full, while the fall’s other new musical offering, “Billy Elliot” ($1,054,838), remained in the No. 2 spot. Only a couple of shows registered declines — “Pal Joey” ($383,430) and “Hedda Gabler” ($226,233) — but both were negligible. Last year Presidents’ Day brought an even larger boost, with Rialto cume rising $4.2 million to $18.8 million — but that year the Broadway slate consisted of 33 offerings, 10 more than are today. The 17 musicals grossed $11,822,737 for 82.4% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 143,667 at 83.8% capacity and average paid admission of $82.29. The six plays grossed $2,531,290 for 17.6% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 35,708 at 72.8% capacity and average paid admission of $70.89. Average paid admission was $80.02 for all shows.
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