×

Broadway Smashes Box Office Records in 2014-15

Broadway hit a new landmark in the 2014-15 season, attracting more than 13 million theatergoers and pulling in $1.37 billion in a record-breaking 52-week frame.

That attendance tally of 13.1 million represents an important achievement for the Broadway theater industry. Attendance from prior seasons hasn’t even come within spitting distance of 13 million in the past: The closest it came was 12.53 million in 2010-11, which for bookkeeping purposes was a 53-week season rather than the standard 52. The previous high for a 52-week season was 12.33 in 2011-12. (Last season hit 12.21 million, and the 2012-13 season reported 11.57 million theatergoers.)

The $1,365,232,182 in cumulative box office is also a new record, although given the rise of premium-price ticketing and the upward trend of ticket prices in general, that bump comes as less of a surprise. Grosses for the 2014-15 season were up 7.6% compared to last season’s $1.27 billion, and attendance climbed 7.3% over 2013-14.

In the season-end figures compiled by the Broadway League, another record was broken by the season’s 1,626 playing weeks — that is, the number of weeks played by each individual production over the course of the season, all tallied into one cumulative total. The prior record had been 1,588, set in 2010-11.

Popular on Variety

Among the Street’s individual titles, “The Lion King” ($101.9 million) — a consistent smash that has managed to roar to new life over the last few years — set a sales record for a single show over one season. Also doing well in 2014-15 were the usual suspects at the top of the Broadway charts, including “Wicked” ($91.7 million) and “The Book of Mormon” ($84.2 million).

Contributing to the season’s muscular totals was the fact that Broadway has benefited in recent years from an influx of ongoing, strong-selling musicals that have joined those long-running successes — plus “The Phantom of the Opera” ($47.7 million this season), “Jersey Boys” ($41 million), “Mamma Mia!” ($35.6 million) and “Chicago” ($28.9 million) — in regularly bringing in money to Broadway. Last season’s “Aladdin” ($75.9 million) and “Beautiful” ($61.4 million) are still doing robust business, as are 2012-13 openers “Kinky Boots” ($59.9 million) and “Matilda” ($51.3 million).

This spring, newly minted crowdpleasers such as “An American in Paris” ($11.2 million), “Finding Neverland” ($10.1 million), “The King and I” ($9.4 million) and “Something Rotten” ($6.6 million) all look like they’re gearing up for healthy summers.

This season’s boffo box office momentum was also helped along by a flood of plays in 2014-15, with popular, star-driven limited runs including Larry David outing “Fish in the Dark” ($18.5 million so far), Helen Mirren hit “The Audience” ($16.1 million so far), Bradley Cooper starrer “The Elephant Man” ($14.7 million) and Hugh Jackman vehicle “The River” ($10.8 million). The season also boasted not one but two plays that have, in a rare turn, proved successful enough to play open-ended runs, with starry comedy “It’s Only a Play” ($36.3 million), blessed by big-money returns in its first months, and Tony contender “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($28.8 million) contributing significantly to Broadway’s 2014-15 totals.

All told, the season’s ongoing and new offerings made for a broad slate of high-demand titles, across both musicals and plays, that helped drive up Broadway’s overall numbers.

The 52-week season ran May 26, 2014-May 24,2015, ending on a Memorial Day weekend that, alone, pulled in $29.3 million for 33 shows on the boards. Buoyed by the publicity spotlight of the theater awards season, Tony contenders such as “American in Paris” ($1,349,932), “Something Rotten!” ($1,064,165) and “Fun Home” ($627,641) all hit best-ever numbers.

More Legit

  • Protesters demonstrate at the Broadway opening

    'West Side Story' Broadway Opening Night Sparks Protests

    Roughly 100 protestors gathered outside the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” on Thursday night, carrying placards and chanting in unison to demand the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ramasar has got to go,” they cried while holding signs that read “Keep predators off the stage,” “Sexual predators shouldn’t get [...]

  • West Side Story review

    'West Side Story': Theater Review

    Whittled down to one hour and forty-five minutes, “West Side Story” – with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins — has grown exceedingly dark and mislaid some of its moving parts in the new Broadway revival from edgy Belgian director Ivo Van Hove. (Can [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Closing in March After Box Office Struggles

    “The Inheritance,” a sprawling and ambitious epic that grappled with the legacy of the AIDS epidemic, will close on March 15. The two-part play has struggled mightily at the box office despite receiving strong reviews. Last week, it grossed $345,984, or 52% of its capacity, a dispiriting number for a show that was reported to [...]

  • MCC theater presents 'Alice By Heart'

    Steven Sater on Adapting 'Alice by Heart' From a Musical to a Book

    When producers approached lyricist Steven Sater (“Spring Awakening”) to adapt Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” into a musical, his initial reaction was to recoil. His initial thought was that the book didn’t have a beginning, middle and an ending. But Sater pulled it off with his production of “Alice By Heart.” After an off-Broadway [...]

  • The Lehman Trilogy review

    Sam Mendes' 'Lehman Trilogy' Kicks off Ahmanson's New Season

    Sam Mendes’ “The Lehman Trilogy,” which took London’s West End by storm will be part of the Ahmanson’s lineup for the 2020-21 season. It will be joined by Broadway hits “Hadestown” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Artistic director Michael Ritchie announced the season that will also feature four fan favorites and another production to be [...]

  • Zoe Caldwell Dead

    Zoe Caldwell, Four-Time Tony Winner, Dies at 86

    Zoe Caldwell, an Australian actress with a talent for illuminating the human side of imposing icons such as Cleopatra and Maria Callas in a career that netted her four Tony Awards, died on Sunday due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to her son Charlie Whitehead. She was 86. Caldwell occasionally appeared in television and [...]

  • Cambodian Rock Band interview

    Listen: How 'Cambodian Rock Band' Became One of the Most Produced Plays in the U.S.

    One of the hottest trends in American theater this season is Cambodian surf rock from the 1970s — and that’s thanks to “Cambodian Rock Band.” Listen to this week’s Stagecraft podcast below: Playwright Lauren Yee’s genre-bending stage show, part family drama and part rock concert, has become one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. this season. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content