You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway Box Office: ‘Spider-Man’ Leads Broadway’s Labor Day Pains

Comicbook tuner continues to post notably low numbers as the fall slump hits the Rialto

The autumn back-to-school slump hit Broadway hard last week, with overall box office totals falling like leaves — and superhero tuner “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” emerging as the production with perhaps the most cause for concern.

The musical, which habitually lands in the millionaires’ club but carries notoriously high weekly running costs, dipped below the $1 million mark a couple of weeks ago, unusually early pre-Labor Day timing for a show popular with tourist auds. That could have been a fluke, though, or perhaps fallout from the show’s latest actor accident Aug. 15.  But after a second frame of posting sales just below $1 million, last week the tuner pulled in just $790,714 for eight performances.

That’s the production’s lowest tally since its $200,000 debut in its very first week of previews — when it played just one lone perf. Attendance last week fell by nearly 10% (to 9,631), more than the Street-wide average of about 4.5%.

It remains to be seen if the musical’s current downswing reps a temporary fluctuation or an indicator of a more severe trend. Should the latter prove the case, doubts will begin to be raised about just how long the musical can hold onto its Broadway house. (The musical still has plenty of revenue potential, however, in its brewing international and touring incarnations.)

Both of this week’s tyro entries, Zachary Quinto starrer “The Glass Menagerie” ($318,952 for six perfs) and musical “Big Fish” ($383,543 for four) posted relatively healthy tallies for titles just starting their runs. But that new coin wasn’t enough to stop the overall downward slide that traditionally hits the Rialto in the early September weeks when consumers’ attention is more focused on getting back into the swing of school or work, rather than on taking in a Broadway show.

Every single ongoing production posted declines in the wake of Labor Day, starting at the top of the charts, although still-hot musical “The Book of Mormon” ($1,692,289) was barely dented by the seasonal downturn. That show beat out “The Lion King” ($1,680,327) for the top spot, while last spring’s Tony fave, “Kinky Boots” ($1,507,607), held onto enough business to muscle ahead of “Wicked” ($1,373,885) for the first time.

The revivals of “Annie” ($595,536), which recently posted its closing notice, and “Cinderella” ($686,831) both slipped notably low, likely hobbled by back-to-school distractions for the family auds that make up a large chunk of each show’s target demo. Another spring musical with little-girl appeal, “Matilda” ($1,099,556), dropped a whopping $235,000, but still held onto its place in the millionaires’ club.

Among the fall openers currently in previews, Orlando Bloom starrer “Romeo and Juliet” ($442,142) was off somewhat but nonetheless held relatively steady in a tough week. “Forever Tango” ($190,462) continued its slide, and the Jewish holiday at the end of last week did no favors for the Street’s struggling musical about a guitar-playing rabbi, “Soul Doctor” ($110,717).

The double-whammy of the Labor Day return to school plus the fall’s Jewish holidays usually spells trouble for the Broadway box office, and there’s still Yom Kippur to contend with later this week. But there’s a silver lining: With early-bird starts for a number of fall offerings — both “Romeo and Juliet” and “Glass Menagerie” open later this month — there’s a chance recovery may be closer than usual.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content