‘Wicked’ Surpasses ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ at the Broadway Box Office

Wicked Broadway
Matt Crockett

Wicked,” the musical that hit $1 billion faster than any other Broadway title, has now passed “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Broadway box office. The longrunning “Wizard of Oz” backstory now weighs in at $1.12 billion in New York sales alone, ahead of the $1.11 billion currently on the books for “Phantom.”

That $1.12 billion lands “Wicked” behind the $1.38 billion that has been logged on Broadway by “The Lion King,” the 1997 musical that in recent years became the top-grossing title of all time with well over $6 billion in worldwide sales. Coming up on its 30th anniversary, the New York production of “The Phantom of the Opera” is the longest-running show in Broadway history, and also has raked in more than $6 billion worldwide. “Wicked,” which opened in 2003, has a grossed nearly $4.5 billion worldwide, according to a rep for the show.

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Despite its relatively late start, “Wicked” — which formally overtook “Phantom” in the spring — had something of a leg up on “Phantom” in terms of Broadway sales, given the continuous rise of ticket prices over the years for in-demand hits, further intensified by the increasing prominence of dynamic and premium pricing. Nonetheless, overtaking “Phantom” represents a notable milestone for “Wicked,” as one Broadway landmark cedes a spot in the box office record books to a newer model.

In the entertainment industry, “Wicked” has long provided headturning proof of the profit potential of a hit Broadway show. The musical became one of the top-grossing properties in the Universal Pictures portfolio, and stands poised to earn the studio even more revenue with the film adaptation currently in the works. The success of “Wicked,” as well as of “The Lion King” and other shows in the Disney Theatrical catalog, has encouraged other Hollywood studios into the Broadway space, where both Warner Bros. (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) and Sony (“Groundhog Day,” via Columbia Live Stage) opened shows last season.

As is the case with any global musical smash, the Broadway sales of “Wicked” make up a significant chunk of revenue for the property, but the majority of its worldwide sales come from international productions and touring companies. Over the years, “Wicked” has played sit-down runs in Chicago, San Francisco and L.A, and currently has a national tour out on the road in North America. There’s also a West End staging, running since 2006, and an international tour. The show has played in 14 countries around the world.

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