Hits benefit most from Thanksgiving traffic

Last week’s Broadway sales demonstrated once more that Thanksgiving is a great time to be on Broadway — at least if you’re a pre-established hit that holiday visitors flock to see.

Such in-demand productions can, after all, capitalize on the spike in time-sensitive ticket demand to rake in huge premium-price profits. Case in point: “The Book of Mormon” ($1,677,963), which played nine perfs rather than the usual eight and logged an average price-paid-per-ducat of a stratospheric $170.

Also last week, a trio of productions topped $2 million each, as longtime juggernauts “Wicked” ($2,205,025) and “The Lion King”($2,079,616), each posting per-ticket averages of more than $150, were joined by year-old spectacle “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($2,070,196). Meanwhile, hot ticket “Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway” ($1,472,987) got a bit hotter and hit play “War Horse” ($1,036,155), after months of hovering just below the $1 million mark, finally trotted past it for the first time.

In fact, every single show in the Top 10 pulled in more than $1 million each, including “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” ($1,271,961), “Jersey Boys” ($1,099,523) and that perennial fave of holiday visitors, “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,118,532). As usual, “Mary Poppins” ($1,236,147) posted the biggest tourist-fueled upswing, jumping an enormous 82% compared to the prior frame.

The holidays can be a tough time to sell most plays, however, as evidenced by slippage even at “The Mountaintop” ($575,900), “Relatively Speaking” ($520,264) and “Other Desert Cities” ($501,055), three of this season’s better-performing non-tuners. As other plays including “Chinglish” ($274,260) and previewing “Stick Fly” ($270,599) struggled, at least Alan Rickman topliner “Seminar” ($420,181) stepped up nicely in the wake of its opening week.

Among musicals, Harry Connick Jr. didn’t seem to pull in auds based on star power alone at “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” ($557,463 for seven previews), a show that doesn’t open til next week and has yet to establish a profile among visiting legit auds. New Frank Wildhorn tuner “Bonnie and Clyde” ($395,637), also in previews, upticked as it heads into its opening frame.

At the bottom of the box office ladder, musical comedy “Lysistrata Jones” ($152,419) seems to have its work cut out for it as it aims to build word-of-mouth in advance of its Dec. 14 opening.

Overall Rialto cume hit $28.1 million for 34 shows on the boards (vs. $26 million for 39 shows during last year’s Turkey Day frame). Attendance of about 270,000 was around 85% of capacity.

Now that Thanksgiving’s over, Broadway’s overall sales will drop down to somewhat less stellar levels, but look poised to remain healthy throughout December and into the bonanza of the Christmas-New Year’s frame.

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