Broadway Box Office: Good Reviews Boost ‘An American in Paris,’ ‘Wolf Hall’

The good reviews for this spring’s crop of Broadway openings have started to show their effects at the box office, with the critics’ enthusiastic thumbs-ups for musical “An American in Paris” and play “Wolf Hall” driving up sales at both those shows.

In a week that brought an overall downturn after a period elevated by spring-break traffic, dance-centric musical “An American in Paris” ($1,149,324) leapt almost 40% thanks to the good press it got in the wake of its April 12 opening, and English history marathon “Wolf Hall” ($860,730) rocketed up by almost 45% following its much-praised April 9 opening.

Not all good reviews have yet translated over to the box office, however. Despite its glowing reception, dirty-mouthed puppet comedy “Hand to God” ($319,194), which opened April 6, barely budged — although the likely awards attention that will come its way might give box office the kick in the pants that it needs.

Meanwhile, “Finding Neverland” ($1,049,280) may have earned largely downbeat reviews last week, but the show, which has posted strong sales from the start, had enough momentum to pull in more than $1 million during a week that accommodated press performances and a heavily comped opening night. According to those involved in the show, the advance is approaching $10 million, with last week logging $1.27 million in wraps (the Broadway term for overall sales during a window of time, including advance sales), its best weekly wrap yet.

“Neverland” was one of four shows that opened last week, but it’s still too soon to judge what effect, if any, the reviews will have on sales at those titles. “The King and I” ($764,035) managed to uptick, if only slightly, in its heavily comped opening week, and seems certain to rise following the raves it earned after it opened. “It Shoulda Been You” ($350,708) slipped in the week it accommodated its opening performance, as did “Fun Home” ($335,213), although raves for the latter will move the needle on that one.

Among the pileup of shows opening this week, musical comedy “Something Rotten!” ($702,924) — which led the pack of just-announced Outer Critics Awards nominations — looks like it’s gaining steam in previews, rising 14% ahead of its April 22 opening. “Doctor Zhivago” ($464,613 for seven previews) and “Living on Love” ($170,833) downshifted thanks in part to critics’ performances over the weekend, while “The Visit” ($212.750) and “Airline Highway” ($144,334) remained relatively steady.

Up in the week’s top 10 chart, “The Lion King” ($1,843,463) and “Wicked” ($1,655,749) dropped as the tide of tourists ebbed, although both managed to stay at the top of the heap. Star-driven plays “Fish in the Dark” ($1,180,983) and “The Audience” ($1,165,779, its best tally yet) also maintained their seats in the millionaires’ club.

Overall Broadway sales slid about $3.6 million to $25.9 million for 34 shows on the boards. With fewer city visitors in town, cumulative attendance slipped by about 25,000 to 272,578, or 83% of capacity. Also contributing to the overall drop in numbers was the absence of “Skylight,” which went on hiatus last week to allow stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan to fulfill other commitments; the well-reviewed production will pick up again this week.

With the final push of the Tony season ending April 23, Broadway producers can soon look forward to the next hurdle that could potentially influence sales: the announcement of the Tony nominations, set for April 28.

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