Broadway Box Office Surges Ahead of the Holidays

Star-driven vehicles and some long-running musicals helped boost the Broadway box office to very strong numbers last week in advance of its typically robust holiday frames.

According to The Broadway League estimates, total box office for the week of Dec. 15-21 surged to $31,278,712 for 36 shows — up about $1.2 million from the previous frame, which also had 36 titles. It was also up sharply from the comparable week of last year ($27,539,204), though there were only 30 productions playing in that frame.

Attendance rose to 280,929 from 273,383 one week earlier, or roughly 82.1% of capacity. The average price paid per ticket ($111.34) was also higher (vs. $110.05 for the previous week).

Musicals were the biggest draw as usual, led by “The Lion King” ($2,200,409), “Wicked” ($1,986,719), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,862,009) and “Aladdin” ($1,607,102) — all of which collected more cash than one week earlier.

But cracking the top five was “It’s Only A Play,” starring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally and Rupert Grint. The play’s $1,408,914 was on par with the previous week, playing at 97.6% capacity at the 1,069-seat Schoenfeld Theater.

Another strong-performing play was the Bradley Cooper-led “The Elephant Man” ($973,202), which played at 99% capacity at the Booth.

It was a good frame for many shows set to close in January, as “Cinderella” ($990,052), “Pippin” ($512,514), “Rock of Ages” ($400,950), “Side Show” ($513,912) and “This Is Our Youth” ($322,733) were all on the rise. But “Motown the Musical,” which goes on a lengthy hiatus on Jan. 18, slid nearly $100,000 to $889,590.

“Cinderella” (pictured) was also among the nine productions gaining at least $100,000 in sales from week to week, joining “Cabaret” ($935,919), “Les Miserables” ($858,645), “Matilda” ($1,078,021), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,862,009), “The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible” ($1,213,927), “The Lion King” ($2,200,409), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($928,596) and “Wicked” ($1,986,719).

Musical “The Last Ship” continues to benefit from the addition of Sting as a performer, though last week’s $779,799 was down from the production’s high of the previous week ($817,897). It played to about 75% capacity at the 1,350-seat Neil Simon Theater.

“Honeymoon in Vegas” had another sluggish week in previews ($321,524), outdrawn by the first week of previews for the Jake Gyllenhaal-fronted “Constellations” ($325,875), which played to roughly 87% capacity at the Friedman Theatre.

The box office is expected to keep humming the next couple of weeks, before the January slowdown that annually winnows down the Broadway slate.

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