‘I’ll Eat You Last’ Leads Rising Broadway Box Office

'I'll Eat You Last' Leads Rising

Play starring Bette Midler and Tony nominee 'Kinky Boots' log robust rises in sales

It didn’t hurt to be a Tony nominee last week, when a general upward trend at the Broadway box office proved most likely to bring increases at those individual titles currently enjoying a spike in awards-season publicity.

Not that a Tony nod was a prerequisite for rising biz. Case in point: “I’ll Eat You Last,” the Bette Midler solo outing that was locked out of the Tony noms but posted the biggest rise of the frame, climbing nearly $112,000 (or 15%) to $865,144. That’s a new box office record at the Booth Theater and a notably boffo number given the small size of the venue (777 seats).

The bump at “Eat You Last” even outpaced the rise at “Kinky Boots” ($1,250,718), up a robust $110,000 on the strength of 13 Tony noms. Cicely Tyson topliner “The Trip to Bountiful,” ($562,796) and tuners “Annie” ($743,412) and “Pippin” ($861,233) also all got healthy boosts, while Tom Hanks starrer “Lucky Guy” ($1,389,588) and new musical nominee “Matilda” ($1,124,333) improved as well, though not by as wide a margin.

Most individual titles on the boards saw sales pick up, but with a couple of shuttered productions no longer in the mix — one a big seller (“The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream”) and one less so (“The Testament of Mary”) — and attendance slipping just slightly to 240,234, the Main Stem couldn’t keep the cume from slightly deflating to $24,246,231 for 29 shows on the boards.

Still, few of the week’s box office declines were terribly notable, with longrunners “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,039,572) and “Mamma Mia!” ($880,486) reporting the largest downticks. Overall, however, there was still enough biz to keep nine shows in the millionaires’ club, with “Motown” ($1,194,456) maintaining a perch above the $1 million mark alongside fellow spring titles “Lucky Guy,” “Kinky Boots” and “Matilda.”

With the Broadway League’s road conference this week bringing in legiters from around the country — in particular Tony voters who’ll need comps to the Street’s roster of nominees — there’s a chance nominee B.O. could dip a bit in the coming week. But if those comps pay off in Tony love, it’ll be worth it.

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