The overall Broadway box office held steady in the days before the usual Yuletide boom, with the dips at some individual titles balanced by notable rises at shows that often pick up when tourists come to town. Productions including Top 10 toppers “The Lion King” ($2,152,296), “Wicked” ($1,903,218) and “Aladdin” ($1,704,819) each gained more than $100,000 compared to the previous week, as did old reliables like “The Phantom of the Opera” ($860,033) and “Les Miserables” ($784,124). Titles like those are among the best-known known on Broadway (and, in several cases, among the longest-running), and as such, they’re the most likely candidates to attract early-bird visitors coming to the city before the Christmas rush to check out a show.
Not every large-scale musical saw a spike, though, with productions including “On Your Feet!” ($1,225,820), “An American in Paris” ($1,065,074), “Beautiful” ($939,619) and “Kinky Boots” ($844,200) registering declines along with many other titles on the Street. Such slowdowns aren’t uncommon in the days prior to the Christmas-New Years frame, since much of Broadway takes a bit of a breather before the real crowds descend for the holidays.
Given that, it makes sense that Broadway attendance was a bit down, off by about 3,500 to 276,740 (or 76% of Broadway’s total capacity for the week). The cumulative box office tally also was down, but only by about $400,000 to $29.5 million for 37 shows now running.
Plays can have a hard time attracting business when most holiday audiences are in the market for razzle-dazzle musicals. “Misery” ($642,120) and “The Gin Game” ($283,931) were among those to dip — as was Al Pacino outing “China Doll” ($822,530), but that decline could equally be attributable to the show’s bad buzz.
In the week after it earned strong reviews from New York critics, “The Color Purple” ($854,716), with a cast that includes Jennifer Hudson, picked up considerably, and seems likely to gain further now that second-night press comps have been accommodated. The just-opened “Fiddler on the Roof” ($837,216) was down notably, but that’s only to be expected in its opening week, and the familiar property seems likely to rebound in a big way over the coming holiday frame.
This week, at last, arrives the holiday boom that spreads it wealth up and down Broadway, and usually rings in as the highest-earning weeks of the year. But January is right around the corner — and so are a few shows opening that month, including “Noises Off” ($206,490 for five previews), which started performances last week and over the holidays is hoping to attract a few theatergoers in the mood for a farce.