The Broadway box office broke a new record last week, ringing in more than $50 million for the ultra-profitable window between Christmas and New Year’s and beating the previous high-water mark set last year during the same week.
Overall Broadway sales came in at $50.4 million for 32 shows, compared to the $49.7 million for 33 shows reported during the 2016 holiday frame. Among the factors driving those numbers higher were the season’s sky-high demand for tickets to hot shows, the fact that many titles played nine performances rather than the usual eight, and a slew of strong-selling productions that are pushing premium ticket prices upward.
All that coin last week brought the 2017 calendar-year tally to a huge $1.637 billion, compared to $1.367 billion for 2016. The comparison isn’t quite apples to apples, since Broadway bookkeepers are counting this year as 53 weeks rather than the usual 52, but the tally was already well ahead of last year before including last week’s numbers.
Encouragingly, it wasn’t just grosses that were up year-to-year. It was also attendance, rising to 13.74 million compared to 13.25 million the previous year. Again, the 2017 total was ahead of the previous year even before the 306,408 theatergoers (some 95% of total capacity) who showed up for the holiday week. Even some long-running shows like “Wicked” ($3,301,067 for nine shows, for a $97.2 million year), for instance, saw annual attendance climb, last year bringing in about 775,000 theatergoers compared to about 720,000 for 2016. (That 2017 number would have been higher even without the 53rd week’s attendees.)
“Hamilton” ($3,854,874) didn’t quite hit the $4 million mark last week, but it came pretty darn close, bringing the show’s 2017 total to $157.8 million. “Wicked” came in second for the week, with “The Lion King” ($3,099,930 for eight shows; $110.3 million for the year) as well as “Hello, Dolly!” ($2,464,573 for eight) and “Springsteen on Broadway” ($2,410,758 for five) also at the head of the pack.
Every single show in the week’s Top 10 broke the $2 million mark, from “Aladdin” ($2,385,928 for eight) to “The Phantom of the Opera” ($2,146,126 for nine) to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” ($2,054,877 for nine), with a total of 20 shows coming in at more than $1 million apiece. That includes newer additions like “The Band’s Visit” ($1,564,647 for nine) and “SpongeBob SquarePants” ($1,456,848 for eight) as well as strong-selling play “Meteor Shower” ($1,112,555 for nine) with Amy Schumer leading the cast.
Well-reviewed Mark Rylance headliner “Farinelli and the King” ($875,639) only did seven shows last week but still managed to post big numbers, while another critics’ pick, “Once On This Island” ($827,890 for nine) was one of the many productions to break a house record over the holidays.
Two shows played their last before the annual January slowdown: “Cats” ($1,826,206 for nine), going out with a bang, and “Home For The Holidays” ($79,125 for eight), going out with a whimper. Darkening later this month will be everything from “Junk” ($457,474) to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to “Meteor Shower,” further dampening Broadway’s overall numbers until the season gets going again in the spring.