Broadway Box Office: Gobbling Up Record Thanksgiving Sales

'Pippin' recoups and a slew of titles break house records in a boffo Turkey Day frame

Pippin Broadway recoup Patina Miller

Broadway feasted on record box office totals last week as shows ranging from “Kinky Boots” to “Twelfth Night/Richard III” broke house records and “Pippin” shimmied its way into the black.

With a whopping 14 shows topping the $1 million mark — and three, led by “Wicked” ($2,625,327), breaking $2 million — last week’s Broadway cume rang in at $31.5 million, a record for any Thanksgiving week. Total attendance at the 32 shows on the boards hit 261,056, but that wasn’t a record. (That title goes to Thanksgiving 2006, when 272,488 people turned out for 33 shows running.)

The Turkey Day long weekend usually brings a tourist-fueled spike to the Main Stem, and with upward-creeping ticket prices, the prominence of premium-priced seating and a robust spring 2013 slate yielding an unusually high number of strong-selling titles, the stellar cume was largely to be expected. As has been in the case in prior years, however, it was the Street’s biggest hits that scored the lion’s share of the holiday wealth, as the faltering titles that could have used the biggest boosts — “Big Fish” ($642,180), “First Date” ($335,405) — failed to turn many new heads.

The Tony-winning revival of “Pippin” ($1,070,681), which proved over the summer it could attract major sales when tourists are in town, was among the week’s 14 millionaires, and with that coin in their coffers producers announced the production had recouped its $8.5 million capitalization costs as of Dec. 1.

That’s a speedy turnaround for a show that opened in the spring, although not as quick as the velocity managed by “Kinky Boots” ($1,912,568), which last week logged a box office record at the Hirschfeld Theater. The musical can claim the B.O. victory after spending the weekend in the Twitterverse spotlight when conservative tweeters protested the musical’s drag-centric performance seg in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Also posting B.O. records at their respective venues were “Matilda” ($1,657,599), “Motown” ($1,522,003), Daniel Craig starrer “Betrayal” ($1,289,324) and “Twelfth Night/Richard III” ($826,487). The latter is particularly notable, given that the Shakespeare double-bill managed to break the record at the Belasco even though producers, in an effort to broaden accessibility, sell a whopping 2,000 seats per week (that’s 250 per perf in a 1,050-seat house) at just $25.

A few shows played nine performances last week in an effort to maximize revenue, including “Wicked,” “The Book of Mormon” ($2,161,225) and “Annie” ($1,229,595). “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1,418,373) played the usual eight but still managed to swing back, at least temporarily, to the strong sales it had logged before the recent slowdown, while “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,220,246) once again showed remarkable vitality for an old timer.

Plays — at least the ones not starring Craig or Billy Crystal (whose “700 Sundays” hit $1,121,799) — were a harder sell, as is often the case, although Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart starrer “No Man’s Land/Waiting for Godot” ($709,855) and “The Glass Menagerie” ($611,444) did well enough.

Even a couple of newer musicals, fresh off rave reviews — “After Midnight” ($666,512) and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” ($551,608) — didn’t spike hugely, since neither has had time to cultivate much of a profile with out-of-towners. Previewing Carole King musical “Beautiful” ($628,436) played its first full week of eight perfs, logging totals about on par with what would normally be expected for a new tuner with an unfamiliar title.

In the lull between Thanksgiving and the Christmas-New Year’s week, Broadway sales won’t be as stellar as they are during the two holiday frames. But seasonal sales from festive locals and city visitors will likely still prove robust enough to keep a lot of shows well-fed throughout the holidays.