Fewer productions, smaller overall B.O. on Broadway

Culling makes individual members stronger even as the overall size of the herd is reduced. So it is with Broadway after the Tonys.

Seven shows made over $1 million in week four (June 18-24), and the majority of the productions currently playing increased their haul over the previous week, but the overall take declined more than 2% as the recently closed shows’ grosses came off the books.

“Wicked” ($2,038,405) led all shows and broke the $2 million barrier as tourists and families coughed up more than $144 for each ticket. Continuing its impressive rise since the Tony nominations were announced, “Once” ($1,008,136) drew SRO crowds and took more than $1 million for the first time in its run.

One surprising note: Many plays showed strong box office muscle even as the summer tourist season (which tends to favor musicals) got fully under way, with “The Best Man” ($720,259), “Peter and the Starcatcher” ($661,701, up 15%), “One Man, Two Guvnors” ($656,610), “Harvey” ($584,597 in its first full week of performances) and “War Horse” ($579,302) all running ahead of tuners including “Ghost” ($560,022), “Porgy and Bess” ($529,027) and the recently shuttered “Godspell” ($305,616). Indeed, ‘The Best Man’ was only a few thousand dollars behind “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” ($727,110), which benefited from some last minute business before closing on Sunday without repaying its investors.

Unfortunately, while box office remained relatively strong as Tony winners and other hot shows upped their ticket prices and sold more premium tickets, attendance declined even when accounting for the removal of “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” “Other Desert Cities” and “Venus in Fur” from the slate. “End of the Rainbow” ($318,238), “The Lyons” ($247,348), “A Streetcar Named Desire” ($334,210), “Jesus Christ Superstar” ($505,796), “Porgy” and “Ghost” all played to houses little more than half full despite some of the lowest ticket prices on the Rialto.

Legiters should look for further consolidation in the weeks ahead, as “Godspell” and “Priscilla” are joined by other weak calves and old steers as bulls like “The Book of Mormon” ($1,602,661, still SRO, with an average ticket going for more than $183) thunder down the Great White Way.

Overall cume was $25 million for 32 shows on the boards, while attendance came in at 254,941.

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