January chilled Broadway to the bone last week, with the annual post-holiday slump and the polar vortex joining forces to push the Rialto box office barometer down by a mammoth $11.5 million.
To be sure, Main Stem sales always plummet in the wake of the Christmas-New Year’s spike, but last week’s days of single-digit temps likely did their part as well to keep potential theatergoers from venturing out to the Street. Turnout was down some 57,000 to 196,288, or 84% of overall capacity. At the box office, the newly crowned top grosser of 2013, “The Lion King,” was down by more than $600,000 vs. the prior frame.
Not that anyone’s too worried about “Lion King” ($1,714,261), which still led the Top 10 ahead of “The Book of Mormon” ($1,709,586), in hot pursuit, as well as “Wicked” ($1,679,996). Spring successes “Kinky Boots” ($1,463,770), “Matilda” ($1,138,576) and “Motown” ($1,113,620) also retained enough sales insulation to keep warm.
Perhaps the most headturning achievement of the week comes from “Twelfth Night/Richard III” ($852,893), the Shakespeare-in-rep revival still hot at the box office thanks to rave reviews and a limited run that will wrap next month. With now-shuttered millionaires-club members such as “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” “Betrayal” and “700 Sundays” out of the way, the production muscled its way up to the seventh slot on the week’s chart.
Another production of two plays in rotating rep, Ian McKellen-Patrick Stewart starrer “Waiting for Godot” ($718,285) also did well, just missing a spot in the Top 10.
Carole King musical “Beautiful” ($622,394) also fell, but no more than would be expected in a week that incorporated press performances and a comp-heavy Jan. 12 opening night. Reviews have been mixed, with the production and the performances generally favored over the show’s book, but none of the notices seem damning enough to drive away the stream of auds who had already been turning out for the musical in previews.
Three critical faves from the season’s fall lineup — “The Glass Menagerie” ($537,792), “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” ($526,669) and “After Midnight” ($522,397) — clustered together with middling sales in a tough frame, while “A Night With Janis Joplin” ($331,705) placed further down on the chart.
Ethan Hawke starrer “Macbeth” ($449,047) was one of the few productions to post a gain last week, with traffic increased thanks to last-minute sales for a limited-run show that ended Jan. 12.
Now that several titles have closed up shop rather than endure the coming fallow weeks on Broadway, the spring tide has already begun to move in, with Yankees play “Bronx Bombers” ($128,209 for four previews) joining the fray alongside fellow previewing plays “Outside Mullingar” ($208,084 for seven) and “Machinal” ($197,634).
Total Broadway cume dropped like a rock to $19.6 million for 26 shows on the boards. Thus begins what is usually the cruelest month on the Main Stem, which this year looks poised to be exacerbated by the impending Super Bowl.