Broadway Box Office: ‘Lion King’ Reigns, With Help From Its Theater

Disney musical leads a Broadway sales chart that's business as usual for summer 2013

More than once this summer, Broadway musical “The Lion King” has done something impressive: It’s beaten “Wicked” at the box office even when “Lion King” plays a traditional eight-perf week and “Wicked” adds on an additional ninth.

Last week it happened again with “The Lion King” ($2,149,242) leading the Top 10 ahead of “Wicked” ($2,053,281 for nine), with “Wicked” tacking on its extra perf to take advantage tourist-boosted summer demand. But even though “Lion King” plays in a smaller venue than “Wicked,” there are advantages in the layout of the show’s theater that have helped the Disney title maximize earnings.

There’s a clue to the difference between the Minskoff, the 1,700-seat venue where “Lion King” plays, and the Gershwin, the 1,809-seater where “Wicked” defies gravity, in the potential grosses reported at each theater. For a regular, eight-perf week at “Wicked,” the potential gross (calculated by assuming every ticket sells at its regular top price, without taking into account potential premium-seating gains) is $1,681,127. Compare that to “Lion King,” which despite its smaller house has a potential of a whopping $2,167,440.

The crucial difference is the layout of the Minskoff, a wide house with more orchestra seats than many Rialto houses and no second balcony, where seats tend to be lower priced. “Lion King” therefore holds a bigger inventory of tickets able to sustain higher price points than most Broadway shows, a fact that has gone a long way in helping the tuner — which has seen unusual rises in box office and attendance in recent years — top the $2 million mark for the last six weeks running.

“Lion King” and “Wicked” topped a Broadway chart that, for the week ending Aug. 11, was largely business as usual for summer 2013. A robust 11 titles broke $1 million each, reflecting a lineup that’s unusually crowded with strong commercial performers including newer outings “Kinky Boots” ($1,632,911), “Motown” ($1,476,600) and “Matilda” ($1,313,384).

As summer begins to wind down, however, some productions are beginning to call it quits, with “The Nance” ($444,605) playing the end of its limited engagement and benefiting from a sales boost in last-minute biz. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” ($556,185) will follow “Nance” out the door in a couple of weeks.

Zachary Levi starrer “First Date” ($416,131) had to contend with accommodating press tickets and a largely comped opening night, but only saw sales dip a bit, an encouraging sign. Meanwhile, previewing musical “Soul Doctor” ($197,157) still hasn’t caught on with auds.

Overall Broadway cume was about on par with the prior sesh, coming at $23.3 million for 24 shows on the boards. Attendance ticked up just slightly to 218,351, and the average price paid per ticket, a good indicator of overall demand for Main Stem fare, came close to $107 – an impressive tally even in a summer that has seem the figure hit notable heights.

More Legit

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Broadway

    Broadway Back In Biz After Power Outage Ends

    The bright lights of Broadway were back on Sunday morning as midtown Manhattan recovered from a power outage that lasted nearly seven hours in some areas. Social media was full of examples of how New Yorkers rose to the occasion after the power went out on a hot Saturday night shortly before 7 p.m. ET. [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    Power Restored in New York City After Massive Outage Hits Broadway

    UPDATED: Power has gradually been restored to Midtown Manhattan and the theater district after what New York City officials described as a rolling blackout that darkened Times Square and other high-traffic areas on Saturday night. Officials said all power should be restored to the 73,000 customers affected by the outage by midnight ET. Local media [...]

  • Slave Play

    Controversial 'Slave Play' Is Broadway Bound

    “Slave Play,” a controversial drama that examined race and sexuality, is moving to Broadway for a limited run. Written by theatrical wunderkind Jeremy O. Harris, “Slave Play” was a sensation when it ran at the New York Theatre Workshop, drawing such bold-faced names as Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, and Tony Kushner. The show will debut at [...]

  • Mary Said What She Said

    Critic's Notebook: Seeing Isabelle Huppert and Dimitris Papaioannou in Paris

    “Do you miss Paris?” I get that question a lot, but never know what to say. How could I not? The two years I spent in that splendid city covering international cinema for Variety changed my life. “What do you miss most about Paris?” That’s a tough one too. The booksellers on the sidewalk in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content