“Elephant Man” pulled in $520,087 from just four previews. In a per-performance comparison, that’s even better than Bette Midler managed in the initial previews of “I’ll Eat You Last,” which also played the Booth Theater, one of Broadway’s smallest at 774 seats. The average price paid per ticket came in at $163 — more than the $160 average at Jackman topliner “The River” ($917,008, a new house record at Circle in the Square), another title with a heavy-duty star in an intimate venue. (But it should be noted that “River” has set a large chunk of its ticket inventory aside to sell at more accessible pricing, which will keep the average pricetag down.)
If “Elephant Man” sustains such boffo box office throughout its run, Cooper would join a small circle of Hollywood stars who are also sales juggernauts on the Main Stem. Jackman, Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts — with whom Cooper co-starred on Broadway in “Three Days of Rain” — are among the names on that very short list.
“Elephant Man” is only the latest addition to a Broadway slate that’s currently packed with strong-selling, star-driven outings. The recently extended comedy “It’s Only a Play” ($1,375,174) continues to pull in big bucks, and “A Delicate Balance” ($857,375), with a high-profile cast that includes Glenn Close and John Lithgow, again reported headturning sales at a relatively small theater of about 800 seats.
Meanwhile, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($895,900) might not have a big-name star, but the London hit is so far maintaining the Broadway momentum it built in the wake of glowing Gotham reviews. “Disgraced” ($512,646) hasn’t reached the same level, but it did get a notable sales bump last week of some 25%, following positive reception in the press.
Plays are doing well enough this autumn that last week three of them (“Only a Play,” “River” and “Curious Incident”) made it into the Top 10 — a rare achievement on a Broadway landscape where razzledazzle musicals are usually the main draw for tourist dollars. Eight shows claimed spots in the millionaires’ club, led by habitual frontrunners “The Lion King” ($1,737,729), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,638,827) and “Wicked” ($1,621,169).
Receipts climbed at nearly every show on the boards last week as the Main Stem geared up for the oncoming boom of Thanksgiving sales. The Streetwide cume rose more than $4 million to $27.6 million for 35 shows now running, with attendance up 15,000 to 264,011 (or 82% of overall capacity).
In its second week, previewing musical “Side Show” ($413,928 for seven previews) has yet to really lift off; the same could be said for “The Last Ship” ($543,860), the Sting musical whose sales have so far proven middling at best.
Still, like every other production on the boards, those two titles look poised to climb in a couple of weeks, when Turkey Day brings out tourists in full force.