New Broadway Titles Hit Box Office Highs

Kinky Boots

Summer tourism drives best-ever numbers at a slew of shows

Who says there’s only one Tony Award that means anything at the box office? With Broadway sales riding a late-June swell of holiday visitors, a good half-dozen shows logged best-ever tallies – and only one of those, “Kinky Boots,” took home what’s generally considered the lone kudo that truly drives B.O., the trophy for best tuner.

Most new titles on the rise benefited from a performance showcase during the Tony telecast, which is one likely contributor to their momentum. But really, the host of shows on the upswing is just a continuation of the trend established even before the Tonys by an unusually strong crop of commercial outings.

“Kinky Boots” ($1,503,541), spurred by its six Tony wins, led the way among the spring openers, but “Motown” ($1,443,867), “Matilda” ($1,222,026), musical revival winner “Pippin” ($1,038,619) and play winner “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” ($711,012) also were among the shows logging personal bests. So was “I’ll Eat You Last” ($890,276), the Bette Midler starrer that didn’t need any Tony noms at all to turn into a big earner in a small venue.

Meanwhile, one family-friendly revival “Cinderella” ($1,134,164) posted one of its highest grosses so far, and another one, “Annie” ($1,088,083) returned to the millionaires’ club.

Overall Broadway attendance was actually down compared to the prior frame, but that can largely be accounted for by the absence of just-closed “Nice Work If You Can Get It” as well as the anomalous week at Tom Hanks starrer “Lucky Guy” ($634,205), which, as scheduled, only played four perfs rather than the usual eight.

As the eleven shows to log more than $1 million last week illustrate, it was still a boom time for tourism on the Street. For proof, look no further than “Wicked” ($2,041,391 for nine perfs), which was confident enough of crowds that producers decided it was worth it to sked an extra performance to accommodate all the biz.

With “Nice Work” gone and “Lucky Guy” abbreviated, Rialto cume was down about $650,000. But the average paid admission climbed to more than $110, an indicator of high demand.

These late-June frames are usually among the busiest of the summer, with the swell often lessening around the July 4 holiday. Whether the spring lineup’s unusual box office strength will shift that trend at all remains to be seen.

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