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‘Lion King’ on Broadway throne

Overall box office down despite rises

“The Lion King” was the king of the jungle last week — or at least of the Broadway box office — as the show maintained its hold on the No. 1 slot just before the production claims the title of fifth longest-running show in Main Stem history.

Lion King” pulled in a whopping $2,219,736 last week, with a bump of some $200,000 attributable to an extra ninth perf. The 15-year-old show is already the highest-grossing Rialto show ever, with a Gotham cume that currently stands at $887.7 million, and on Wednesday will surpass the 6,137 performances of “A Chorus Line” to take over the No. 5 slot on the list of Broadway long-runners.

“Wicked” ($2,147,461) also played an additional ninth perf last week and had a gain of $130,000 to show for it. It’s the second time this summer both shows have skedded an extra performance to take advantage of heightened demand among warm-weather tourists. The add-a-show tactic has long been common over the Thanksgiving and Christmas frames, but this is the first year that it’s becoming commonplace for summer weeks.

Most of the shows on the boards gained momentum last week, although you might not know it from a cume that was down by around $1.5 million. The drop is due to the absence of three shows that closed the previous sesh — “Harvey,” “Memphis” and “Fela!” — not to mention the scheduled weeklong absence of Ricky Martin from “Evita” ($737,920), which sent sales plummeting $280,000. (It’s worth noting, however, that more people saw “Evita” last week than the previous frame; they just paid less, on average, to do it.)

In general, however, most productions improved at the B.O., with the most notable upticks seen at shows including “Sister Act” (up 13% to $818,454) and “Ghost” (up 16% to $581,473), both closing later this month. Recent opener “Bring It On” ($472,810) climbed by 22% following the prior frame, when sales were dampened by a comp-heavy sked that included press perfs and opening night.

The second and final week of “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” ($580,122 for six perfs) wasn’t quite as strong as it was in its first sesh. But even though fewer people saw the show, they were still willing to pay an average of $145 per ticket.

Overall Broadway sales, on the other hand, dropped by $1.7 million to $21.8 million for 25 shows on the boards. Attendance slid by about 20,000 to 218,168, or 83% of total capacity.

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