‘Elf’ gains some height

Warner's holiday musical gains steam in down week

Broadway prepped for its annual Thanksgiving bounty last week, with the spike in sales at screen-to-stage tuner “Elf” serving as prelude to the traditionally boffo Thanksgiving frame. The success of star-driven vehicles such as “Driving Miss Daisy” and the arrival of “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” bodes well for a bountiful holiday sesh on the Main Stem.

“Elf” ($862,995), the first Broadway venture from Warner Bros. Theater Ventures since the 2006 disappointment “Lestat,” saw its B.O. climb a whopping $250,000 (or 41%) last week to land at No. 7 in top 10.

Credit a title familiar from the Will Ferrell pic plus the rapidly approaching holiday season for the rising B.O. tide at “Elf,” which the WB’s legit arm produces in association with Unique Features, in a week that saw the majority of Broadway offerings post declines.

Also benefiting from a Hollywood profile are two star-driven vehicles staking out spots on in the top 10: “Driving Miss Daisy.” “Daisy” ($727,178), which broke a house record at the Golden Theater thanks in part to the appeal of topliners Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, and Al Pacino starrer “The Merchant of Venice” ($793,110), playing to an aud capacity that topped 100%.

All that comes in advance of the Turkey Day frame, usually one of the most profitable of the year along the Rialto. Plus, Sunday is the first preview perf of high-profile mega-tuner “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” — which seems sure to rake in coin, at least initially, thanks to fans and curious legiters.

Last week, meanwhile, can be seen as something of a breather taken before this week’s coming ka-ching. The week that ended Sunday saw receipts decline a bit, with the Street-wide cume dipping $1.3 million to $21.3 million for 38 shows on the boards.

Drop is attributable to the fact that the prior sesh included Veterans Day, Nov. 11, which fell on a Thursday and prodded the frame to perform like a sales-boosted holiday weekend. Last week, receipts softened.

Several tourist-appeal shows logged the heftiest declines of the week, including tuners such as “The Addams Family” ($918,316), “Memphis” ($794,251) and “Mamma Mia!” ($706,711), each down by more than $100,000. “La Bete” ($214,454) was among the plays that took a beating.

But at this point, legiters have got their eye on the week ahead and its promise of holiday biz. Expect grosses to shoot way up — at least at the offerings that tourists turn out for.

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