B’way B.O. tumbles

Figure plummets after brief April bounce

What the Broadway gods gaveth, they quickly took away. After an unusual post-Easter bounce, the box office fell into a deep hole last week.

Off a whopping $2,226,617 from the previous session, 32 shows brought in $13,952,707, representing a 13.76% decline. Paid attendance likewise dropped 11.28% to land at 225,123. At least a third of the shows were running under their respective breakeven, and that’s a conservative estimate.

If there were any B.O. gainers last week, the increases could be traced to 1) added perfs or 2) a closing notice.

Shuttered on Sunday, “Vincent in Brixton” ($189,806) and “Def Poetry Jam” ($100,350) made marginal improvements to their respective tallies.

Up $256,823, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” ($412,661) went from two to its full seven perfs, making it the highest grossing play on Broadway despite lots of press comps over the weekend. The O’Neill revival opens tonight. After the previous week’s gala benefit, “Nine” ($612,975) charged for a full eight, creating a $55,666 windfall. At 89.9% capacity, the Antonio Banderas starrer has yet to sell out.

With no imminent closing notice or change in perfs, Roundabout’s “Joe Egg” ($264,170) somehow defied the downward trend and came up with a $606 increase.

Otherwise, there were some real tumbles. Under the top 10, plummets of six figures afflicted “Aida” ($464,794), “Man of La Mancha” ($496,401), “Rent” ($258,976), “Beauty and the Beast” ($456,855) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($460,086), with the latter two falling a staggering $204,091 and $201,937, respectively.

Off $86,148 and $99,928, respectively, “Cabaret” ($290,485) and “Urinetown” ($195,137) hit levels reminiscent of early September’s doldrums.

Several newcomers were also hit with five-figure declines: “Life (x) 3” ($303,948), “The Play What I Wrote” ($161,570), “Say Goodnight Gracie” ($109,572), “Urban Cowboy” ($76,716), “A Year With Frog and Toad” ($147,853) and “Enchanted April ($151,424), which had the excuse of a heavily comped opening night. Ditto “Salome” ($318,977), which reduced its perf sked to six. Yasmina Reza and Oscar Wilde aside, Broadway’s new crop of shows needs some juice.

Which brings us to “Gypsy” ($636,541), down just $4,704. Between last week’s opening-night comps and the star’s four missed previews the previous session, who knows what’s going on here? The producers reported these figures: First-day single-tix sales came to $450,000, with a total of $950,000 taken in over the three-day weekend.

In previews, “Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home” ($118,401) and “Look of Love” ($197,202) each put in a full eight.

The Bacharach/David show opened Sunday, and there were Zagat surveys being handed out in front of the Brooks Atkinson Theater. Are opening nighters really the most objective judges of a show?

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