Univision, ESPN, “Godzilla”: All tried to take a bite out of Broadway last week, but Main Stem box office fought them off.
Upfronts, the TV industry’s annual sales pitch to advertisers, can’t help but overlap a bit with Broadway, whose venues can seem as good a place as any for a network to make a live presentation to a crowd of modern-day Mad Men. Univision took over the Al Hirschfeld Theater last week for its upfront, which limited the “Kinky Boots” ($668,658) playing schedule to four perfs, while ESPN needed load-in time at the Minskoff Theater during one of the regularly scheduled perfs of “The Lion King” ($1,693,549 for seven). Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston topliner “All the Way” ($828,296 for six) lost a couple of performances because Cranston had to be in L.A. for the premiere of “Godzilla,” the film franchise reboot in which he stars.
Even with all that to contend with, Broadway stuck its landing, as overall cume sank just $495,000 to $28.8 million for 36 shows on the boards. Attendance was down by around 6,500 to 284,081, but average ticket price — a barometer of consumer demand — upticked to $101.21.
Helping to keep Rialto biz buoyant last week was the gathering momentum behind the titles currently scoring awards love, including “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” ($663,459), the 10-time Tony nominee that posted its best tally so far last week. Tony contenders “Cabaret” ($783,761), “After Midnight” ($658,463) and “The Cripple of Inishmaan” ($571,593) also posted notable gains last week, as did “The Bridges of Madison County” ($392,986), logging a nice jump in last-minute sales ahead of its May 18 closing.
Add to that the spring openers that have shown box office strength all along, including Denzel Washington starrer “A Raisin in the Sun” ($1,184,774), muscling up to number four in the top 10, as well as “Aladdin” ($1,171,988), “Beautiful” ($1,087,702, another house record at the Sondheim Theater), “Les Miserables” ($1,049,079), “If/Then” ($1,001,802) and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” ($971,988). In fact, with “Kinky Boots” temporarily fallen out because of its shortened week, new offerings colonized more than half of the frame’s top 10.
Not all spring openers picked up a lot of steam — “Rocky” ($741,927) and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” ($528,025) were among those rising just a bit, and “Of Mice and Men” ($852,668) downshifted very slightly — while longrunners including “The Phantom of the Opera” ($882,551) and “Mamma Mia!” ($696,527) slipped.
Even so, the Street stayed plenty healthy, with spring tourist biz helped along by awards-season buzz. Numbers may fluctuate a bit in the coming weeks but should remain fairly strong until Memorial Day, the official kickoff to summer sales.