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Broadway Box Office: September Doldrums Dog Sales

Annual early-fall slump keeps overall Rialto cume about on par with the previous week

It was the same old song of September at the Broadway box office last week — pretty much the same verse as the prior frame, as Rialto sales held generally steady with minor upticks for several individual titles.

The weeks immediately following Labor Day are often tough on the Main Stem, as tourism plummets and even New Yorkers are more focused on getting back to school and work. There’s also the month’s two annual Jewish holidays to contend with; last weekend it was Yom Kippur that likely kept some theatergoers away, while local remembrances of Sept. 11 also were a probable drain on B.O.

Biggest dip of the frame came at “Annie” ($467,612), falling more than $125,000 and confirming that producers were likely wise to post a closing notice for early January. Tourist magnet “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($731,212) continued its slide to worryingly low levels, while tuner “Soul Doctor” ($97,659 for seven) kept struggling.

“Newsies” ($454,268 for five), meanwhile, was down by even more than the shortfall at “Annie,” but that was because the production nixed three perfs last week in order to replace the stage deck that, according to Disney Theatrical Prods., the tuner’s hoofing newsboys had danced right through.

There were slippages at a few other shows on Broadway as well, but none were notable, and they were all countered by similarly small-scale rises at the majority of titles now running. Also adding coin to the pot were freshly added outings “Big Fish” ($582,583 for seven previews; pictured above) and “The Glass Menagerie” ($465,685), with each beefing up the number of perfs per week after starting previews the previous sesh.

“The Lion King” ($1,697,712) topped the chart, just barely edging out “The Book of Mormon” ($1,691,518), while still-hot “Kinky Boots” ($1,529,670) took the third slot ahead of “Wicked” ($1,452,909), “Motown” ($1,241,903) and “Matilda” ($1,041,882).

Overall Broadway sales climbed by just $180,000 to $18.6 million for 24 shows on the boards. Attendance rose by about 5,000 to 195,557, but average ticket price — a good indicator of overall demand for Rialto tickets — dropped to just below $95.

Forever Tango” ($220,070), which logged generally disappointing sales over the course of its limited Rialto return, left the boards, so there’ll be one fewer show to add to the Broadway cume next week. But more will soon open, and with the Jewish holidays over and the fall season just now beginning to launch — Orlando Bloom topliner “Romeo and Juliet” ($471,807) opens Thursday — the return of sales momentum is likely in sight.

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