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Extra show boosts B’way ‘Lion King’

Overall sales decline at box office last week

Broadway box office slipped last week compared to the prior sesh’s President’s Day sales surge. But with two new titles joining the lineup and the potential for one tuner to become a new regular member of the millionaires’ club, the overall cume held up relatively well.

A lot of the longer-running shows on the Rialto, with no long-weekend traffic to boost demand, were off by predictably large numbers. Not so, however, at “The Lion King” ($1,779,324 for nine perfs), which kept its gross at almost the same level as the prior sesh by adding one extra show to the traditional eight-week sked.

That scheduling change landed “Lion King” at the summit of the Top 10, followed by “Wicked” ($1,657,584), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,607,985) and “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1,212,082). Also helping to keep Broadway’s overall tallies high was “Cinderella” ($1,045,064), the previewing tuner that might be making a habit of topping $1 million per week, and “Mary Poppins” ($1,022,585), kept aloft by last-minute biz prior to its imminent March 3 closing.

Meanwhile, the two new titles to come along — Holland Taylor solo outing “Ann” ($262,436 for seven) and “Hands on a Hardbody” ($53,229 for one) — landed at the opposite end of the chart, but modest tallies are to be expected for tyro shows playing shortened preview weeks.

Among the few productions to rise last week was “Newsies” ($926,915), stepping up by 13% and outpacing the uptick ratio at other shows including “Annie” ($972,128), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($950,908) and “Manilow on Broadway” ($653,063 for five).

Otherwise, there was slippage reported at most shows, with the biggest fall posted at Scarlett Johansson topliner “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” ($725,106), down more than $230,000 or 24%. The slide suggests Johansson’s familiar name is helping to draw tourists to the play revival, keeping sales high in holiday frames but tapering in less visitor-packed weeks.

Overall Broadway sales came in at $18.3 million for 23 shows on the boards. That’s not quite as high as the $20.3 million logged for the same week in 2012, when there were 26 shows running. Attendance last week was actually up at bit to 191,325, or 85% of total capacity.

With the wave of spring breaks fast approaching at academic institutions, look for sales to continue to climb as more productions start perfs and contribute to the usual spring momentum.

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