Box office gets boost from vacationing auds

The Christmas frame was once again a good time to be on Broadway — that is, if your show had a well-established title that could reel in vacationing auds.

And producers of every single production had better be thankful for all they could get last week, since the coming week’s sales could be jeopardized by the snowstorm that pounded the East Coast.

Top draws, including “Wicked” (up more than $500,000 to $2,153,110) and “The Lion King” ($1,823,766), were among the usual suspects to benefit most from the yuletide boom. Heck, even “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” reported 100% attendance and a gross of $944,138 from the four-performance frame that saw an accident Monday night lead to the cancellation of two subsequent performances. (B.O. from that Monday perf is not included in the gross figure, according to reps for the show.)

Nine productions made up the week’s millionaires’ club, including “Elf” ($1,572,836), the limited-run holiday outing pushed to its peak thanks to Christmas-minded auds (not to mention a nine-perf week). “Mary Poppins” ($1,149,159) also got a boost from the season’s family visitors, in a repeat of the boffo summer weeks that also brought big bucks to the Disney outing.

Holiday seshes sometimes see additional shows added to the week’s sked to take advantage of the annual attendance spike, but this year “Elf” was the only legiter to do so for this particular frame. Most played eight or seven perfs each.

Seasonal auds don’t generally bring the same mega-bucks B.O. to most plays and edgier musicals, and this year was no different. Other than Al Pacino starrer “The Merchant of Venice” ($1,099,420) and “Driving Miss Daisy” ($452,435), most plays languished on the lower end of the grosses chart.

Less traditional tuners including “Fela!” ($614,835) and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” ($501,179) did pick up (as did most productions on the Main Stem last week), but those two may also have been helped by last-minute biz from auds hoping to catch the shows prior to their January closings.

Overall sales hit $25 million for 36 shows on the boards. That’s not much higher than the $24.3 million logged for the same frame last season, but the sesh’s attendance of 250,000 does rep 10,000 more theatergoers than attended over the same frame in 2009.

The coming week, the one between Christmas and New Year’s, is often even more boffo than the Christmas frame. Whether that’s true this year remains an open question, with this week’s brutal snowstorm potentially keeping theatergoers away from the Rialto.

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