×

Broadway Box Office: The End of Summer Sales is in Sight

Receipts, attendance begin their late-summer declines ahead of the Labor Day drop

Every summer must come to an end, and box office numbers indicate that last week might have been the beginning of the end of this year’s annual summer boom on Broadway.

Nearly every production on the boards experienced declines last week, while tapering tourism drove attendance down as well. Coming out of the frame, Beatles revue “Let It Be” — an example of the concert genre that has shown notable B.O. strength in recent months — announced it would shutter following disappointing sales.

Despite any overall softening, the musicals at the top of the Main Stem chart had little to complain about, whatever dropoffs they endured. “The Lion King” ($2,112,788), for instance, logged its seventh week straight above the $2 million mark, and held the top spot on the Broadway ladder for its 17th non-consecutive week so far this calendar year, more than any other show.

As has been the case for most of the summer, habitual frontrunners “Wicked” ($1,871,050) and “The Book of Mormon” ($1,741,615) were joined by newer outings including “Kinky Boots” ($1,649,031), “Motown” ($1,437,843) and “Matilda” ($1,329,084), the latter bucking the downward trend and breaking its prior house record at the Shubert Theater. Even “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1,025,358) managed to top $1 million despite cancelling one performance due to an actor injury.

Even though the spring’s successes, many of them boosted by the Tonys, have shown unusual commercial strength all summer —  including revival “Pippin” ($1,023,367), continuing to post stellar numbers in a relatively small venue — this season’s newer offerings have had trouble catching on. “Let It Be” ($316,572) reps a case in point, with the producers of the show announcing the Beatles tribute would shutter Sept. 1 rather than stick around through the end of the year as originally planned. The show likely suffered in part from its similarity to 2010-11 outing “Rain,” another recent Beatles tribute (producers of which have filed a lawsuit over the overlap between the two productions).

A pair of recently opened original musicals also haven’t sparked any fires at the B.O., with Zachary Levi starrer “First Date” ($424,227) up a fraction in its first full frame post-opening and “Soul Doctor” ($200,673) holding steady in its opening week. Dance showcase “Forever Tango” ($282,884), which joined the slate in July, saw sales slide more than 25%.

Overall Broadway cume slid about $1.5 million to $21.8 million for 23 shows on the boards, while attendance dipped by 16,000 to 202,495 (or 86% of overall capacity). The downward spiral will probably turn into a trend: Declines are poised to continue for the rest of the month, with late August often presaging the bigger back-to-school dropoff that traditionally occurs after Labor Day.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Sue Wagner John Johnson

    Tony-Winning Producers Sue Wagner and John Johnson Announce New Venture, Wagner Johnson Productions

    Sue Wagner and John Johnson, seven-time Tony award-winning producers, announced Wednesday that they have embarked on a new theatrical business venture, Wagner Johnson Productions. Under the name, they will produce and general manage a wide scope of theater productions. One of Wagner Johnson Productions’ current projects is a musical rendition of “Almost Famous,” which will [...]

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content