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Broadway Box Office: Street Dips, But ‘Only a Play’ and ‘On the Town’ Hit Highs

Broadway box office experienced a predictable decline last week after the boost it got the prior frame from the Columbus Day weekend — but the larger dips at the Main Stem’s tourist faves came juxtaposed against a handful of notable gains, including a big-money rise at “It’s Only a Play” and a step up at freshly opened “On the Town.”

“It’s Only a Play” ($1,375,481) has proven a B.O. powerhouse right out of the gate thanks to its starry cast including Nathan Lane and Rupert Grint (pictured above), and last week rose 17% (more than $200,000) to break the house record at the Schoenfeld Theater, with demand on the rise thanks to generally strong reviews. Also up was “On the Town” ($696,571), the revival that managed to hit a new high last week despite accommodating press performances and a comp-heavy opening night. Sales seem poised to keep going up, too, considering the overall raves the show got from the Gotham press corps.

Other shows to rise over the post-Columbus Day frame include another well-reviewed play outing, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($848,236) and, to a lesser degree, “Disgraced” ($352,737), which opens Oct. 23. Sting musical “The Last Ship” ($575,155) also picked up in advance of its Oct. 26 opening, and Ewan McGregor starrer “The Real Thing” ($475,917) upticked too.

A smattering of minor bumps at other individual titles — including “You Can’t Take It With You” ($680,921) — helped mitigate the usual major declines at the big-name shows that always see numbers dip when long-weekend tourists make their exit. Not that Top 10 titles like “The Lion King” ($1,895,200), “Wicked” ($1,680,849), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,651,464) and “Aladdin” ($1,438,023) couldn’t handle the declines.

Overall sales fell more than $1 million to about $26 million for 32 shows on the boards. Attendance, it turns out, only slipped by around 2,500 to 260,002 (or 86% of capacity) — a solid fall tally — but the slippage in ticket demand was reflected by a $3 decline in average price paid per ticket, down to a still-robust $101.54.

With “Disgraced” and “The Last Ship” opening this week and Glenn Close starrer “A Delicate Balance” starting previews tonight, the momentum of the autumn season looks poised to keep Broadway B.O. healthy as the Main Stem moves toward the ultra-profitable Thanksgiving frame.


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