You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Tina Turner The Musical

    How 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical' Tells the Icon's Traumatic Story

    It wasn’t the response Tali Pelman had hoped to receive. The group creative managing director of Stage Entertainment had traveled to Küsnacht, Switzerland, with one goal in mind: Convince Tina Turner that her life could be the stuff of a successful stage musical. “We walked in the door,” Pelman remembers. “Tina was already there, and she greeted [...]

  • Ben McKenzie

    'Gotham' Star Ben McKenzie to Make Broadway Debut in 'Grand Horizons'

    “Gotham” star Ben McKenzie will make his Broadway debut in Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” He joins a cast that includes Oscar nominees Jane Alexander (“Kramer vs. Kramer,” “The Great White Hope”) and James Cromwell (“Babe,” “L.A. Confidential”). The show has a strictly limited 10-week run and begins previews on Dec. 23, 2019, before officially opening [...]

  • The Great Society review

    Listen: Brian Cox on 'Succession,' Shakespeare, and the Crisis We're In

    Brian Cox is having a pop-culture moment with “Succession,” the buzzy HBO series in which he stars. But he’s also an accomplished theater actor with plenty of experience doing Shakespeare — and it serves him well in both “Succession” and in his current Broadway show, “The Great Society.” Listen to this week’s podcast below: Cox [...]

  • Scooby Doo Ella Louise Allaire Martin

    Scooby-Doo Live Theater Tour Is Goofy Dane's Latest Adventure

    From its 1969 start as a Saturday morning kids mystery cartoon series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” starring its titular, talking Great Dane and his four teenaged friends, has made adventure its staple. Once Hanna-Barbera’s successor, Warner Bros. Animation, took the leash, Scooby and company became a comic book, a board game, a series of video [...]

  • Tootsie Santino Fontana

    'Tootsie' Ending Broadway Run in January

    “Tootsie,” the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of the 1982 classic film comedy, will play its final Broadway performance on Jan. 5, 2020. When it wraps up its run, the show will have logged 293 regular and 25 preview performances at the cavernous Marquis Theatre, where it sometimes labored to draw big crowds. Last week, “Tootsie” [...]

  • Laurel Griggs

    Laurel Griggs, Broadway and 'SNL' Actress, Dies at 13

    Laurel Griggs, who starred in Broadway’s “ONCE the Musical” as Ivanka, has died. She was 13. An obituary posted to Dignity Memorial indicates she died on Nov. 5, and Griggs’ grandfather wrote on Facebook that her death was due to a massive asthma attack. Griggs made her Broadway debut when she was six years old [...]

  • West End celling collapse

    Ceiling Collapse at 'Death of a Salesman' Leads to Theater Closure, Boycott Threats

    The West End revival of “Death of a Salesman” has moved into a temporary space after parts of the ceiling of Piccadilly Theatre collapsed during a Wednesday night performance. Five audience members sustained minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals. The theater will remain closed for the rest of the week. In the meantime, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content