Last week’s blizzard blew a chill wind over the Broadway box office, further softening up sales in a month that is often one of the Main Stem’s cruelest.
The severe stormfront, dumping some 11” of snow in Central Park, made it even harder for theatergoers to get out to Broadway even though all shows steadfastly performed through the blizzard. The resulting dropoff in traffic contributed to an overall dip of almost $1 million compared to the prior frame, with the total cume for the week ending Jan. 26 coming in at $19.1 million for 26 shows on the boards.
Still, it could have been worse. Later in the week the weather had cleared up enough that it didn’t much impact weekend perfs, the most reliable moneymakers on the Rialto. And besides, Jan. 21 marked the start of the annual two-for-one ticket promotion Broadway Week, which has kept winter sales a little warmer in the past and is probably partly responsible for the fact that attendance actually upticked last week, rising by about 2,700 to 198,773.
Nearly every individual production got hit with B.O. declines, but most were insignificant and the largest of dips were logged at the some of the strong-selling titles that could best afford shortfalls, including “Wicked” ($1,598,920) and “Kinky Boots” ($1,385,078). Six shows held onto spots in the millionaires’ club — a small number, by recent standards — with “The Book of Mormon” ($1,660,267) leading the way ahead of “The Lion King” ($1,608,611), “Wicked” and “Kinky” as well as fellow millionaires “Motown” ($1,115,402) and “Matilda” ($1,053,614).
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Helping to counter some of the overall decline was the new coin added to the cume by previewing tuner “The Bridges of Madison County” ($376,494 for seven previews), which stepped up to almost a full performance week and posted sales that were about consistent with what would be expected of a new musical in its earliest days.
Like most of the Street, recently opened Debra Messing starrer “Outside Mullingar” ($225,870) fell, but not by as much as might be expected in a frame that accommodated press perfs and the heavily-comped opening night. It remains to be seen if the show’s sales will be much propelled by its mostly favorable reviews — in the way that a critical thumbs-up seems to been keeping revenue steady at another January opener, Carole King musical “Beautiful” (off a hair to $835,905).
The one other show currently in previews, Yankees chronicle “Bronx Bombers” ($157,099), is the one having the hardest time drawing crowds. Previous sports-themed stage outings (“Lombardi,” “Magic/Bird”) also have had varying degrees of trouble attracting theatergoers, and these last few Super Bowl-focused weeks have probably been no help to it.
It’s the Super Bowl this Sunday, in fact, that’s really got Broadway shivering, with some producers expecting the weeklong Super Bowl Boulevard, planted smack in the Rialto’s front yard, to further scare off sales in a sesh already expected to be a doozy, as area hotels are packed with football fans who may not not be much interested in catching a show while they’re in town.