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Holiday boosts Broadway

Usual high returns propel week 31

Santa brought his usual Christmas bounty to Broadway in Week 31 (Dec. 22-28) — although sales weren’t quite as boffo as they have been in the past.

Total receipts hit $25.3 million for 30 shows on the boards (or $26.1 million including estimates for “Young Frankenstein”).

That’s down from the $28.3 million logged from the same sesh in 2007, with three more productions on the boards. Attendance was down from about 300,000 last year to 266,287 this year.

Cume is even further below the 2006 tally, which hit $29.1 million for 30 shows, with attendance at nearly 315,000.

Those downturns seem likely to increase concerns about the impending box office impact of the country’s economic woes. Still, it should be noted that this year, unlike the past few annums, both Christmas and New Year’s fall midweek, so increased tourism traffic should extend into Week 32’s sales as well.

In addition, individual sales for the Rialto’s big hits were on par with last year’s. Once again the top 10 was headed by “Wicked” ($1,803,262), while “The Lion King” ($1,535,136) and “Jersey Boys” ($1,338,151) also kept up with their receipts from last Christmas.

Those long-standing successes were joined by newer tuners that didn’t seem to have any trouble attracting theatergoers, including “White Christmas” ($1,409,256 with nine perfs) and “Billy Elliot” ($1,346,997). Another newcomer, “Shrek the Musical” ($1,260,282), posted its best week yet.

Biggest jump of the frame was made by “Mary Poppins” ($1,176,275), popping up by about $430,000.

All in all, 11 shows racked up more than $1 million each, vs. the 13 that managed the same feat in 2007.

As usual, straight plays were largely crowded out of the spotlight by holiday biz, although “All My Sons” ($603,450) held up well with attendance at almost 96%.

Plays like “Equus” ($498,431), “Speed-the-Plow” ($389,355) and “August: Osage County” ($366,376) all rose, though none spectacularly. “The 39 Steps” ($350,361), on the other hand, posted its best week so far.

Next week, several shows on the boards will play their final frames before shuttering in early January — leaving the Rialto a chilly place until sales heat up in the spring.

The 24 musicals grossed $22,437,083 for 88.7% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 227,640 at 92.6% capacity and average paid admission of $98.56.

The seven plays grossed $2,870,519 for 11.3% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 38,647 at 87.2% capacity and average paid admission of $74.28.

Average paid admission was $95.04 for all shows.

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