Broadway Box Office: Halloween Scares Away Sales

Broadway sales Halloween 2015
Joan Marcus

Give the prophets of doom some credit: Halloween 2015 turned out to be just as rough on the Broadway box office as they’d expected.

The holiday is always pretty scary for Broadway, when family audiences get distracted by trick-or-treating and adult theatergoers have a round of parties to go to. But this Halloween fell on a Saturday, which hit right at the point in the week when Broadway makes a big chunk of its money. Besides that, Saturday night saw the Mets play a home game in the World Series, and Sunday brought the New York City Marathon — which clogs city hotel rooms with tourists who are more focused on running the race than seeing a show.

Put all that together, and many of Broadway’s biggest tourist attractions got clobbered. Among musicals, “Something Rotten!” ($673,844), off almost a third (or more than $300,000), got hit the hardest, but it was hardly alone. “The Lion King” ($1,640,663), “Wicked” ($1,346,650), “Aladdin” ($1,243,826), “An American in Paris” ($1,122,825), “Kinky Boots” ($686,895), “The King and I” ($614,987) and “Les Miserables” ($480,903) each posted a decline of more than $250,000 compared to the prior week. And that’s only some of the shows that got gut-punched.

Only a few shows had nothing to fear. “Hamilton” ($1,595,089), riding its still-strong wave of adoration, actually rose by more than $100,000, while new, star-driven play offerings also packed in crowds. David Mamet’s Al Pacino vehicle “China Doll” ($1,215,881) looked boffo (and hit the No. 6 spot on the week’s Top 10), but it remains to be seen how much of an impact the show’s souring buzz will have at the box office. Meanwhile, Bruce Willis in “Misery” ($906,961) continued to build the healthy momentum it established last week.

Predictably, the three plays that opened last week — “Sylvia” ($295,650), “Therese Raquin” ($352,583) and “King Charles III” ($405,691 for seven performances) declined thanks to comped press tickets and opening night performances. But “King Charles III,” in particular, looked poised to rebound even stronger in the wake of the strong reviews it earned in the wake of Sunday’s opening.

The cumulative Broadway total plummeted $4.6 million to $22.8 million for 33 shows now playing. Attendance dropped 26,000 to 240,104, or about 78% of the Street’s overall seating capacity. Demand shrank significantly, as the average price paid per ticket sank $7 to $95.

From a silver-lining perspective, at least it’s over. This week “On Your Feet!” ($946,680), shaping up to be a crowdpleaser, and “Allegiance” ($449,953) open, and before you know it, Broadway will be heading into the year-end holiday boom of Thanksgiving and, especially, the Christmas-New Year’s frame.

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