Broadway thumbed its nose at concerns the city-stopping snowstorm that hit Gotham on Dec. 26 would freeze out last week’s B.O., with Main Stem cume hitting a record $35 million for 36 shows on the boards.
That’s $9.6 million more than the tally logged last year. A whopping 17 individual productions reported weekly sales topping $1 million each.
A variety of factors, ranging from the frame’s unusually packed roster to a beefed-up performance sked to the top-dollar prices paid during the high-demand sesh, helped contribute to the perfect storm.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually one of the top-grossing frames of the season, thanks to an influx of holiday tourists flocking to family-friendly, razzle-dazzle tuners. The last week of the year also can benefit from last-minute biz for the shows that decide to shutter after New Year’s Day rather than face the annual winter slump that hits in January.
In general, it’s the high-profile titles that get the largest bump over the holidays.
Take “Wicked” ($2,228,235), which broke its own record for the top-selling single week in Rialto history, commanding an average per-ticket price paid of almost $154. “The Lion King” ($1,992,270), falling just shy of the $2 million mark, also logged a house record, while “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1,880,833) performed like a superhero in its first full week of eight preview performances.
“Spider-Man” was the newest show in the millionaires’ club for the week. The oldest? “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,390,531), which at nearly 23 years old broke its own house record.
A number of productions — including “Billy Elliot” ($1,518,486) and “Mamma Mia!” ($1,353,837) — played an additional ninth perf to take advantage of the seasonal crowds. But Beatles tribute concert “Rain” topped them all, seeing sales leap to $1,404,356 for an 11-show week.
With a full nine productions playing their final perfs by Sunday, several could get a rise from last-minute attendance. That’s not just true for splashy crowdpleasers such as “West Side Story” ($1,403,667), “Elf” ($1,344,993) and “Promises, Promises” ($1,366,579): The ticking deadline also seemed to lift artsier fare including “Fela!” ($997,714) and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” ($697,839), which each reported full-capacity attendance.
Much of the frame’s momentum won’t last, of course. The hearty tally at “Mary Poppins” ($1,492,701), for instance, will likely deflate in the coming weeks, given the show’s notable recent rises (and subsequent falls) according to the tides of tourism.
A few shows, however, hope to combat the January downturn. “American Idiot” ($1,183,038), benefited this week not only from the holidays but also from the addition over the weekend of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong to the cast. The last time Armstong, who’ll appear in the show on and off for the next couple of months, played a week’s stint, sales shot into the stratosphere.
Overall attendance for the week was up more 75,000 to 329,604, a major step up from the 273,000 logged last year for the same sesh. In terms of percentage of overall seat capacity, this year’s number is on par with last year’s tally of 90%.