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Broadway gets presidential lift

Three-day weekend brings big bump in B.O.

What a difference a three-day weekend makes.

Broadway box office jumped a total of $4 million last week — with a pared-down lineup that filled only about half of the total number of Rialto theaters, no less — thanks to the tourism boost from the long weekend of President’s Day. Several individual titles posted week-on-week gains of a couple of hundred thousand dollars or more each, as “Wicked” ($1,875,920) defied gravity by an additional half a million bucks and previewing family draw “Cinderella” ($1,056,544) spent its first week in the millionaires’ club.

In one of its final frames on the boards, “Mary Poppins” ($1,015,709), which always vacillates according to tourism trends, jumped 54% to spend a sesh above the $1 million mark. As is often the case in similar weeks, the long-weekend surge in theatergoers made the biggest difference at the older productions that rely on a lot of out-of-towners for B.O., including “Mamma Mia!” (up 76% to $845,181) and “Chicago” (spiking 85% to $675,688).

Star-driven productions can also benefit from visitor influxes, as evidenced by “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” ($957,786), the Scarlett Johansson starrer that reversed a couple of slower weeks by swelling by 46%.

Both newer offering “Annie” ($954,565) and longtime stalwart “The Phantom of the Opera” ($929,435) climbed by more than 35% each, although neither quite managed to crack $1 million.

The only show to decline last week was “Manilow on Broadway” ($610,616 for five perfs), in the first week of its extension beyond the originally announced closing date of Feb. 9. Limited run is set to shutter Saturday.

Even with coin from the “The Heiress” (which closed Feb. 9) missing from the pot, overall Broadway cume climbed 27% to $19.1 million. In terms of box office tallies, it’s not quite as strong as the $20.1 million logged over from President’s Day weekend sesh in 2012, but there were 26 shows running then as opposed to the 21 now playing.

This week the Main Stem may be poised for a post-holiday dip, but in all likelihood, early academic spring breaks will kick in soon enough to help keep sales on a roll as the spring’s new titles — many of which don’t open until April — begin to join the fray.

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