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.

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