Broadway Box Office: On the Rebound with Valentines and Presidents

Broadway sales Presidents Day
Joan Marcus

After taking a bruising the previous week, the Broadway box office bounced back in a big way last week — thanks to valentines and presidents.

Valentine’s Day always bring a spike in date-night business, and this year the holiday coincided with the three-day weekend of Presidents’ Day. The rise in visitor traffic, fueled by the long weekend, combined with the influx of Valentine’s lovers to drive weekly sales up by $4.7 million to $25.7 million for 31 shows now playing. Attendance increased by close to 30,000 to 254,659 (or 83% of Broadway’s overall seating capacity for the week).’Those tallies mark a robust recovery from the prior week, when the distractions of the Super Bowl knocked Broadway down several notches. In addition, attendance last week, at least at all-ages musicals, was likely bolstered further by Kids Night on Broadway, the annual two-for-one ticket initiative for child-guardian pairs.

At large-scale, family-friendly titles, rises of $250,000 each weren’t uncommon. “Wicked” ($1,695,453), “Aladdin” ($1,493,306), “School of Rock” ($999,098), “Les Miserables” ($871,423), “Finding Neverland” ($841,122) and “Matilda” ($837,763) were each a quarter of a million dollars richer than they were the week before. Those were just biggest gains in a week that saw the majority of titles bulk up, with ultrahot “Hamilton” ($1,792,099) once again claiming the top spot on the top 10.

Also adding to the cumulative tally were two new shows that began previews. Disaster-movie spoof “Disaster!” ($364,575) did fairly well for an under-the-radar musical with little advance publicity, and “Hughie” ($330,298 for seven previews), the Eugene O’Neill revival starring Forest Whitaker, filled the intimate Booth Theater to 96% capacity. Among other previewing productions, “The Humans” ($224,521) is due for a boost from the strong reviews the show will likely earn after it opens Feb. 18, while “Blackbird” ($439,753 for seven), attracting attention thanks to stars Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams, picked up some steam.

Meanwhile, two shows made their exit last week: “Misery” ($784,206), the Bruce Willis outing that had its fair share of strong weeks but never quite turned into a hot ticket, and “Allegiance” ($583,133), which shuttered after struggling with modest sales since it opened in the fall.

Last week’s Broadway boom, alas, will probably prove short-lived. Traditionally, the weeks immediately following Presidents’ Day go fairly fallow — at least until spring break season rolls around in March.

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