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Broadway Box Office: Sales Hold Tight Before Back-to-School Dip

Tony winners 'Kinky Boots,' 'Matilda' and 'Trip to Bountiful' post best-yet figures

Broadway box office held steady for the final week of summer 2013, keeping a tight grip on holiday-weekend sales ahead of a post-Labor Day sesh that traditionally sees sales slump.

There were both gains and declines at individual titles all along the Street, with none of the shifts proving terribly noteworthy. Among the productions to rise last week were “Kinky Boots” ($1,683,060) and “Matilda” ($1,335,417), each benefiting from awards-season success to post best-yet numbers, while Beatles revue “Let It Be” ($385,586) wrapped up its disappointing, abbreviated run with one of the largest bumps of the week. “First Date” ($464,602), the Zachary Levi starrer that opened last month, also hit its highest tally so far.

Recent Main Stem addition “Romeo and Juliet” ($489,143 for seven previews), starring Orlando Bloom, went up to seven perfs (after an initial frame of two previews) and came away with fair-to-middling B.O. for a star-driven play revival. In the show’s defense, it was likely difficult last week for a play to attract the attention of the tourist crowds that are usually drawn to flashier musical offerings. But that didn’t stop the revival of “The Trip to Bountiful” ($565,669) — another title that scored Tony-season love earlier this year, thanks to a high-profile thesping win for star Cicely Tyson — from posting its best numbers so far.

Individual declines, at productions including longrunners “The Phantom of the Opera” ($958,454) and “Mamma Mia!” ($773,583), were nothing to write home about, although for the second week in a row, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($969,849) came in below the $1 million mark — notably early, for a large-scale tuner with proven tourist appeal.

In an indication that overall Rialto sales had begun to slow in advance of Labor Day, only six shows topped $1 million; as many as 11 hit the same mark in more robust frames earlier this summer. “Pippin” ($990,567), for instance, dropped out of the millionaires’ club for the first time in weeks, although that revival was still going strong for a show in one of the Main Stem’s smaller houses.

Otherwise the Top 10 looked familiar, with “The Lion King” ($1,818,423) leading the way ahead of “The Book of Mormon” ($1,745,146) and “Wicked” ($1,692,789), while “Motown” ($1,428,092) remained formidable as well.

Overall Broadway cume fell by about $100,000 to $20.5 million for 23 shows on the boards. Attendance ticked up, very slightly, to 199,212.

The week ending Sept. 1 will likely be a last hurrah before the back-to-school drop that tends to hit Broadway after Labor Day, a slide often exacerbated by the Jewish holiday that falls at the end of this week. Whether struggling new musical “Soul Doctor” ($171,977), about a folk-singing rabbi, will get a Rosh Hashannah-weekend boost remains to be seen.

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