B’way season ends with mixed reports

B.O. record set, but auds down

NEW YORK — Broadway set another financial B.O. record yet again during the 1999-2000 season, which ended Sunday.

Total gross stood at $602,596,528, up 2.46% over the previous season, which scored a then-record total of $588,126,585. The number of playing weeks for the season also rose to 1,452 from 1,440.

The season’s paid attendance of 11,365,309, however, was down 2.07% from 1998-99, which had set an all-time high of 11,605,278, smashing the record set during the 1980-81 frame.

The gross total climbed mostly due to an increase in the average ticket price, which jumped from $50.68 last season to an inflationary $53.02 in 1999-2000.

Theater occupancy enjoyed a slight uptick, going from 74.8% capacity in 1998-99 to 75.5%.

Overall, Broadway’s biz appears to have landed on a plateau. In 1997-98, the B.O. rose by a more dramatic 11.6%, with attendance up by 9.4%. In 1996-97, it improved 15% while attendance jumped 9%.

Fewer new plays

Thirty-five new productions opened on Broadway in 1999-2000, down from 39 the previous season.

But if Broadway today is preserving the status quo, the road is in free fall. The dearth of hit musicals in recent seasons translated into a very bumpy road: Total receipts for the season rest at an uncomfortable $584,537,459, down 17.8% from 1998-99, which captured $711,412,610.

The only good news: Gotham’s current fare — from “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Swing!” to “The Music Man” and “Contact” — can look forward to filling a virtual void.

The combined Broadway and road total arrives at $1,187,133,987 for 1999-2000, down from the previous year’s $1,299,539,195. It reps an 8.6% decline, the second year in a row that the combined total has dipped. From 1996-97 to 1997-98, it fell 3.5%. Prior to that, the last time the total was off from the previous year was in the 1985-86 season.

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