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High temperatures, high sales

Broadway box office boasts seven million-dollar babies

Midsummer usually brings an influx of tourist-fueled biz to Broadway, and this summer is no different. But while the Rialto box office has followed seasonal trends in some ways, a couple of developments stand out.

For one, the first eight weeks of the season (beginning May 24) have seen the overall number of tickets sold at the TKTS Booth rise a bit, from 269,551 to 270,968. That’s despite this summer’s spectacularly uncomfortable weather, which evidently hasn’t deterred folks from lining up at the outdoor booth located smack in the middle of shade-free Times Square.

Seven productions have recently staked out regular spots in the millionaires’ club of shows grossing more than $1 million each per frame. New to the list are “The Addams Family” and “Promises, Promises,” both of which have established consistently hit-worthy sales streaks that legiters will be watching to see if they sustain beyond the summer boom. (Smash revival “Fences” regularly topped $1 million in weekly grosses before its limited run ended July 11.)

But perhaps the most surprising recurring member of the club this summer is a reinvigorated “Mary Poppins,” the 3 1/2-year-old Disney Theatrical tuner that has had its share of B.O. ups and downs over the course of its run. Weekly sales for “Poppins” have topped $1 million five times so far this summer vs. twice over the same period in 2009, with average price paid per ticket up 8% (despite a pricing scale that has remained essentially fixed since 2006).

Per Disney, the production’s advance has climbed 20% over the same time last year and grosses are up 19%. Coinciding with a seasonal boost in advertising spending, rise seems to indicate the show’s stalwart appeal for family auds.

Recent weeks have also seen “Memphis,” which spent most of last season posting solid but middling numbers, finally begin to creep upward into a new sales class. It’s been an unusually slow build for the show, which seems only now to be pushing toward the millionaires’ club several weeks after its top tuner Tony win.

There remain, of course, productions that haven’t benefited from the tourist overflow as much they might hope — such as tuners “Fela!” and “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Season-to-date figures indicate that compared to last year, overall sales are up about $5 million to $147.6 million, although attendance is down a bit to 1.7 million.

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