Thanksgiving brings tourists to Broadway

'Wicked' breaks record; 'Spider-Man' makes its first $200,000

It was a record-breaking week on the Rialto, but the main B.O. question on the minds of legiters was how much Broadway tuner “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” brought in for its first preview performance on Sunday. The answer: $200,605.

Sure, the Thanksgiving frame was a big week on the Main Stem, with “Wicked” ($2,150,665) logging the top single-week total in Broadway history — but “Spider-Man” was the focus of attention on Monday. The house for the web slinger’s Sunday preview was close to full, with the average ticket price topping $104. Those are robust numbers — an eight-perf week would extrapolate out to $1.6 million — but the evening’s receipts don’t serve as a true indication of how overall sales for the tuner will shape up.

Even in a week that’s not flush with tourists, a first preview for a big new musical almost always attracts a crowd of early-bird theatergoers. And the musical’s high-profile travails and delays only amped up the initial curiosity factor, so it remains to be seen how B.O. for the tuner will level out in the coming weeks.

Elsewhere on the boards, Thanksgiving brought its traditional holiday bounty — at least it did for the razzle-dazzle tourist magnets, which reaped the benefits of premium-ticket sales during the high-demand sesh. “Wicked,” which is no slouch in the slowest of frames, logged an average price paid per ticket of a whopping $148.

“The Lion King” ($1,870,565) broke a house record, as did “Elf” ($1,406,283) — which, thanks to holiday-minded auds, jumped 63% over the prior week to land at No. 3.

Each and every member of the top 10, in fact, pulled in more than $1 million each. Newer offerings, including “The Addams Family” ($1,299,371) and “Promises, Promises” ($1,077,802), were joined by older shows that often benefit from an influx of tourists, including “Mary Poppins” ($1,206,630) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,024,656).

A single play, “The Merchant of Venice” ($1,160,360), made it into the top 10, powered by topliner Al Pacino. But really, most tourists are in town to catch a tuner, so even a notably strong non-musical like “Driving Miss Daisy” ($632,324) saw sales slip, as did other plays, including “Time Stands Still ($352,855) and “Lombardi” ($277,567).

Tony-approved musical “Memphis” ($968,590) got a healthy bump, but edgier fare such as “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” ($442,113) and “The Scottboro Boys” ($273,250) still weren’t among the shows to shatter records. Meanwhile, a handful of middle-of-the-pack shows — including “The Pee-wee Herman Show” ($625,453) and “American Idiot” ($600,092) — stuck to their positions.

The uneven heaping of Thanksgiving spoils on big-name crowdpleasers became especially pronounced last year at this time, when it was thought that auds were being more cautious with their spending and gravitating toward the familiar in the wake of hard economic times.

Broadway can look forward to a few more solid weeks before Christmas and New Year’s bring another spike in B.O. — followed by an inevitable January slump.

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