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National Theater sees boost in B.O.

Chekhov and an Ibsen adaptation on tap for 2012

London’s National Theater averaged 90% capacity over the 2009-10 season with 1.2 million in attendance, up 45% over the previous year, according to the theater’s annual report.

Across the 26 plays presented by the NT in the year, box office also rose. Total ticket sales accounted for 47% of the theater’s income for the year.

Government subsidy via the Arts Council England now accounts for only 30% of the venue’s annual income and expenditures, which have doubled in the last eight years to £64.5 million ($102.6 million).

The impressive attendance rise is largely attributable to the West End transfer of its runaway hit “War Horse,” helmed by Marianne Elliot and Tom Morris and booking until February. Produced solely by the NT, it has so far earned £13.2 million ($21 million) at the box office for a profit of $4 million. Show carries a $3.3 million advance and has been seen by auds including the queen.

“War Horse” is in the midst of an international rollout with an upcoming Lincoln Center Theater production co-produced by Bob Boyett as part of his National Theater first-look deal. Show begins Gotham previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theater March 15. Further openings are set for Toronto in January 2012, a road version beginning in mid-2012 and a separate international tour to kick off in fall 2012. Steven Spielberg is shooting the movie version, from which the National will derive a small income.

Adding in figures for the 2009-10 foreign tours of “Phedre” and “The Pitmen Painters” (being presented on Broadway by Manhattan Theater Club) and the international satellite screenings of its productions via NT Live, the National’s worldwide reach was a record 1.4 million people, double the audience of eight years ago.

Announcing the figures, a.d. Nicholas Hytner also outlined plans for shows that will form part of the National’s 2012 season of four plays sponsored by Travelex, which subsidizes NT prices so that half of the tickets in the 1,129-seat Olivier auditorium are priced at $16 and the remainder at $24 and $48.

Howard Davies will direct Zoe Wanamaker in a new production of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” and Jonathan Kent will helm the first staging in English of Ibsen’s epic “Emperor and Galilean.” The latter, about Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate, will be in a version by Ben Power and Mike Bartlett (“Cock,” “Earthquakes in London”). NT associate director Bijan Sheibani will also helm a new production of Arnold Wesker’s “The Kitchen.”

Announcing the figures, a.d. Nicholas Hytner also outlined plans for shows that will form part of the National’s 2012 season of four plays sponsored by Travelex, which subsidizes NT prices so that half of the tickets in the 1,129-seat Olivier auditorium are priced at $16 and the remainder at $24 and $48.

Howard Davies will direct Zoe Wanamaker in a new production of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” and Jonathan Kent will helm the first staging in English of Ibsen’s epic “Emperor and Galilean.” The latter, about Roman Emperor Julius the Apostate, will be in a version by Ben Power and Mike Bartlett (“Cock,” “Earthquakes in London”).

NT associate director Bijan Sheibani will also helm a new production of Arnold Wesker’s “The Kitchen.”

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