As Santa brought his annual Christmas boom to the Broadway box office, Disney reigned supreme in the year-end sales tallies as “The Lion King” claimed the crown for top earner of 2014 and “Aladdin” hit No. 5 on the list of the top 10 titles of the calendar year.
Meanwhile, “Wicked” ($2,903,309 for nine performances) soared to the top of the weekly chart in a frame that saw overall Broadway sales (for the week ending Dec. 28) hit a record-busting $41 million for 36 shows on the boards. Attendance climbed a whopping 25,000 over the prior week, up to 318,721.
Although Broadway bookkeepers pay more attention to season tallies than to year-end totals, calendar-year numbers still hold interest as a mid-season checkup. The triumph of “Lion King,” which pulled in a regal $100.2 million in 2014, capped off a year that saw the powerhouse show became the top grossing single title in any medium. Meanwhile, Disney Theatrical Prods.’ new addition to the boards, spring opener “Aladdin,” rang up $59.1 million (and placed fifth on the 2014 chart) — despite missing out on the first several weeks of the year, since it didn’t start performances until late February.
“Aladdin” and “Beautiful” ($58.1 million), which began performances late last year, logged the highest sales of the shows that opened during the 2013-14 season, registering on the year-end chart behind “Wicked” ($94.6 million), “The Book of Mormon” ($86.6 million) and “Kinky Boots” ($68.5 million). That’s about what the upper reaches of the weekly top 10 has looked like throughout the season.
Also on the 2014 leaderboards were all-ages attraction “Matilda” ($55 million); “Motown” ($54.5 million), soon to take a hiatus; and long-running tourist magnets “The Phantom of the Opera” ($49 million) and “Jersey Boys” ($41 million).
Among non-musicals, “It’s Only a Play” racked up $23.4 million since it began performances in late August. The mega-selling comedy — which will play an extended run into the spring — is just one of several star-driven sales magnets this fall, including the recently recouped Bradley Cooper outing “The Elephant Man” ($7.1 million) and Hugh Jackman topliner “The River” ($7.1 million).
Broadway’s 2014 numbers got a final boost from a boffo Christmas week, the tourist-clogged frame that is usually the most profitable of the year. This year proved no exception, with weekly house records broken at shows including “The Lion King” ($2,885,371 for nine), “Aladdin” ($1,986,322 for nine) and “It’s Only a Play” ($1,431,961). “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” ($1,062,731) joined the millionaires’ club for the very first time since it powered through a season of slow sales to become last season’s Tony champ.
At some shows, the yuletide boost gained additional fuel from an imminent closing — as was the case with “Cinderella” ($1,336,544 for seven) — or an impending hiatus, as with “Motown” ($1,285,105). But not every closing production gained momentum: The struggling revival of “Side Show” ($588,059) barely upticked, compared to the majority of other titles on Broadway.
Also adding to the week’s Christmas cume were the robust sales of popular magic offering “The Illusionists” ($1,811,228 for 10 shows), the short run of which ends next week, as well as the additional business brought in by Sting’s stint in his musical “The Last Ship” ($864,004).
Last week’s $41 million total for all of Broadway outpaced the Christmas 2013 week by more than $2 million. Indicating sky-high ticket demand, the overall price paid per ticket jumped to $128.62 — not quite as high as last year’s average price, which topped $133.50 with 30 shows running.
With tourists sticking around in New York for New Year’s, the coming week will also keep sales elevated, though usually not as high as those during the Christmas frame. In early January comes the winter slowdown, when multiple titles close up shop and the stream of city visitors dries up until spring-break season.