Broadway took a postprandial snooze last week as sales subsided in the wake of the box office feast that came during the Thanksgiving frame.
Still, demand was high enough among the Street’s most popular shows to keep seven titles in the millionaires’ club, including “Wicked” ($1,696,781), hanging on to its perch in the top spot. Perhaps most notably, Al Pacino-toplined play revival “Glengarry Glen Ross” ($1,177,056) hit No. 4 in the top 10 despite only playing seven preview perfs rather than the standard week of eight.
Meanwhile, early results in the faceoff between dueling Christmas offerings “A Christmas Story” ($976,184) and “Elf” ($845,719 for nine shows), suggest the novelty factor is helping “Christmas Story.”
Whereas “Elf” played Broadway in a prior seasonal stint in 2010, “Christmas Story,” based on the familiar 1983 Yuletide pic, is new to Gotham and managed to beat “Elf” at the box office last week despite the additional ninth perf for “Elf.” Judging from the trends of holiday outings in past years, look for B.O. at both titles to gain momentum as Christmas itself approaches.
The shows with the biggest falloff last week were those most likely to be buoyed by the family auds and tourists that flood Broadway during holiday seshes. “Annie” ($948,150), for instance, was off some 37% in the absence of Turkey Day visitors, although there were enough members of its female-skewing family fanbase in town to keep sales healthy.
Longrunners “Mary Poppins” ($699,157) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($682,365) dropped by about the same percentage as “Annie,” while veteran “Chicago” ($464,224) and teen-centric “Bring It On” ($391,162) were off by more than 30% each.
Nearly every show on the boards saw sales slide, but in the good news department, critically panned “Scandalous” ($370,243) spiked by 90% (or around $175,000). As for the bad news, attendance still came in at just 38% of the week’s overall capacity.
If a play isn’t starring Al Pacino, it can be tough to turn heads during holiday frames. Last week, however, it was the nonmusicals that most consistently posted gains, if only slight ones. Jessica Chastain starrer “The Heiress” ($546,017) upticked, as did “The Anarchist” ($350,479), despite the latter’s accommodation of press perfs and its heavily comped opening night Dec. 2. Katie Holmes starrer “Dead Accounts” ($410,308) also picked up despite opening last week; so did October opener “Grace” ($323,974).
With the week’s cume coming in at $22.2 million for 30 shows on the boards, sales seemed fairly buoyant. If there was cause for concern, it might be in the attendance figures, which fell 25,000 from last week’s total to 220,611. That’s a slide from the 245,483 posted last season at this time from 33 shows running at the time.
More telling than the raw figures, though, are the percentages, with last week’s average cumulative capacity coming in at a bit more than 73% of all available seats — down from more than 78% in 2011. Season-to-date figures see the 2012-13 season logging 80.5% of overall capacity vs. the 82.6% recorded at this point in 2011-12.