Who says July 4 is bad for Broadway box office? Not spring openers “Kinky Boots,” “Motown” and “Matilda,” which all hit best-yet tallies in a frame that can sometimes be a rough one for Rialto productions.
With fireworks, barbecues and other outdoor activities keeping tourists and local auds alike away from theaters, Independence Day has in past years punctured the late-June swell in grosses that tends to occur as summer tourism kicks into high gear. To a degree, that phenomenon still occurred this year: Overall sales were down some $2.2 million, slipping to $22.3 million for 23 shows on the boards.
Even so, enough theatergoers turned up last week to push weekly sales at 11 titles up above the $1 million mark (including one, “The Lion King,” which topped $2 million). And not one of the drops at individual productions registered as a major setback.
The Rialto had a couple of things going for it this year to help keep numbers up during the holiday frame.
For one thing, July 4 fell mid-week, which did Broadway the favor of getting out of the way of all weekend performances, traditionally the highest-grossing perfs of any frame. For many, the Thursday holiday also stretched the weekend to four days (or more), and the Main Stem usually benefits from the extra leisure time afforded by long weekends.
Besides that, an unusual number of this spring’s crop of musical attractions have turned into commercial heavyweights, including the Tony Awards’ new musical pick “Kinky Boots” ($1,611,599) as well as “Motown” ($1,500,580) and “Matilda” ($1,307,168), all playing to capacity auds. “Cinderella” ($1,049,049) and tuner revival Tony winner “Pippin” ($1,035,398), not to mention fall opener “Annie” ($1,069,807), all add significant chunks of change to the pot, too.
There’s something of a survival-of-the-fittest principal at work as well. Last week there were 23 shows on the boards versus 28 for the same sesh last year, and while the 208,177 reported for overall Rialto attendance was down more than 25,000 compared to the same week in 2012, the winnowed-down slate of offerings pushed up demand for those shows that were open.
Last week average price paid per ticket, a reliable indicator of ticket demand, came in at a robust $109.74 vs. $95 during the same week in 2012. More than two-thirds of the shows running last week pulled in auds at 90% of capacity or higher.
Broadway’s cume may continue to taper somewhat in the next couple of weeks as the season’s plays continue to make their exit. Mega-earning Tom Hanks starrer “Lucky Guy” ($661,829 for four perfs) played an abbreviated week before it shuttered July 3, following in the footsteps of “I’ll Eat You Last” and “Ann,” which closed the prior sesh. “Macbeth” ($292,722 for six) ends its limited run this week, and “The Assembled Parties” ($292,368) has skedded its final bow for July 28.
But a handful of other nonmusical titles are sticking it out for most of the summer — such as “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” ($621,093) — or into the fall, like “The Trip to Bountiful” ($448,887). And the Rialto’s summer offerings will start opening in no time: The limited run of “Forever Tango,” for instance, starts perfs July 9.