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Closing shows goose Broadway box office

Rialto in end of summer blahs

With audiences slowly disappearing in the final weeks of summer, it seems like the only way for producers to get a show’s sales to pick up is to announce its close.

That was the case in week 13 (Aug. 20-26) when the handful of titles to see B.O. improve vs. the prior frame — “Sister Act,” “One Man, Two Guvnors,” “The Best Man,” “Clybourne Park” — were all facing imminent closing dates.

Otherwise, most individual productions were down. Few dips were major, but despite the addition of tuner “Chaplin,” the overall effect was a dip in both B.O. cume and attendance.

At least the soon-to-close shows could benefit from last-minute biz. “Sister Act” ($814,882), which shuttered Aug. 26, only upticked slightly, but Brit farce “One Man, Two Guvnors” ($746,407), closing Sept. 2, was up by 13%, or close to $90,000. “Clybourne Park” ($420,369), also closing Sept. 2, was up 11% (or $40,000), and “The Best Man” ($575,811), set to exit Sept. 9, stepped up a bit too.

Also adding to the pot were the first eight previews of “Chaplin” ($356,882) in a so-so start that’s unsurprising for an untested title launching perfs in the last weeks of summer. It remains to be seen whether the Little Tramp bio-tuner, which played to an audience capacity of 72%, can parlay word-of-mouth into sales momentum.

Most notable decline of the frame was logged at “Nice Work If You Can Get It” ($502,446), off 33% (or close to $250,000) thanks to the weeklong vacation of topliner Matthew Broderick. “Mary Poppins” ($836,240), which thrives on the summertime tide of family-oriented tourists now beginning to dry up as school starts, slid 12% .Overall Broadway sales slipped by $1.6 million to $19.3 million for 23 shows on the boards, with attendance falling about 6% to 196,997.

The 18 musicals grossed $16,654,636 for 86.3% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 164,595 and an average paid admission of $101.19. The five plays grossed $2,648,304 for 13.7% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 32,402 and an average paid admission of $81.73.

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