Hercules who? Broadway box office held up admirably last week, with the final push of holiday tourist traffic helping to keep sales aloft despite a weekend winter storm that threw a wrench into travel plans and dumped six inches of snow onto New York City.
With potential ticketbuyers huddled indoors rather than braving Times Square, blizzards and their attendant transit snarls are never good for the Main Stem. This year, though, New Year’s visitors could help keep Rialto biz robust –- and besides, any tourists stranded by weather in their midtown hotels were far more likely to check out a nearby show than visit the Statue of Liberty.
No production broke the $3 million mark last week –- in part because almost no show played an extra ninth perf, as many did the prior sesh — but there was still enough demand for tickets to keep 13 shows in the millionaires’ club. Two, “Wicked” ($2,454,630) and “The Lion King” ($2,332,390), made it past $2 million each, and “The Book of Mormon” ($1,948,385) came within spitting distance.
In keeping with longstanding tradition, a slew of shows shuttered last week rather than face the annual slump that hits the Rialto following the yuletide boom.
Daniel Craig-Rachel Weisz starrer “Betrayal” ($1,367,059 for nine) exited as strong as it’s been throughout the course of its limited run, with star power overcoming a mixed bag of reviews to pull in $17.5 million over the course of its 14-week run. Another big-name thesp, Billy Crystal, also finished up a limited run on a boffo note, with his solo outing “700 Sundays” ($1,101,241 for five) racking up $10.4 million for nine weeks on the boards (and, for the most part, only six shows per week).
Former publicity magnet “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1,782,904) also took its final bow last week, and even if it earned a bit less last week than over the Christmas sesh, it must have gotten a boost from last-minute biz since it played only eight perfs last week vs. nine the prior frame. “Annie” ($1,387,296) also did well on its way out the door, while shuttering “First Date” ($563,371) upticked but, as was the case throughout its run, still failed to wow.
In general, the shows with the highest profiles — such as “Kinky Boots” ($1,781,938), “Matilda” ($1,654,803) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,357,647 for seven) — had no trouble holding onto sales last week. Nor did critics’ darling “Twelfth Night/Richard III” ($871,219), which broke the box office record yet again at the Belasco Theater, while previewing tuner “Beautiful” ($740,451) hung tough as well ahead of its Jan. 12 opening.
One play had the misfortune to begin previews in the midst of the storm: “Outside Mullingar” ($116,334 for four). It remains to be seen how Manhattan Theater Club’s Debra Messing-toplined premiere of the John Patrick Shanley play will fare in frames with more clement weather.
Overall Broadway sales were down last week but still hit $31.1 million for 30 shows running. The week’s 253,730 attendance was also way down compared to the nine-show-enhanced 290,386, but enough of a crowd turned out to keep theaters full to almost 91% of total capacity.
With five shows out the door, most new big musicals bowing later this spring and audiences of all stripes focused on getting back to the daily grind, legiters can rely on B.O. taking its usual slide in the coming weeks. But producers can keep their fingers crossed that the annual round of seasonal ticket deals will keep traffic up — and pray that winter 2014 keeps its headline-grabbing snowstorms to a minimum.