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Broadway Box Office: ‘Finding Neverland’ Soars in First Preview

The Harvey Weinstein-produced musical adaptation of “Finding Neverland” took flight in its first Broadway preview last week, selling out the house and posting the kind of box office that, if it continued for a whole week of performances, would have seen the show top $1 million.

The single performance of “Finding Neverland” (pictured above in its tryout run at the A.R.T. in Cambridge, Mass.) hit $159,823, drawing a packed house of 1,510 theatergoers. The average ticket price came in at $105.84, a pretty robust figure for a show during previews, a period during which pre-opening tickets are often sold at reduced prices to get audiences in the door.

It’s a promising showing for the title, which stars Matthew Morrison (“Glee”) and Kelsey Grammer in the backstory of J.M. Barrie’s creation of Peter Pan. But the big numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, in that the figures for first previews often get a boost from curious Broadway avids and rabid fans of stars or titles. Besides, initial interest in “Neverland” was bound to be high since Weinstein began drumming up New York publicity for it way back when he got a song from the show on the 2014 Tony telecast. Whether the audience enthusiasm will continue to hold up in the coming weeks remains to be seen.

Also debuting well were “The King and I” ($420,879 for four previews) and “An American in Paris” ($317,918 for two previews). “The King and I” played to full capacity, and its box office tally looks particularly strong for a nonprofit production (from Lincoln Center Theater) at which total box office is bound to be reduced by the lower-priced tickets available to LCT members. Meanwhile, “American in Paris” came close to selling out, and can attract attention with a familiar title, a score of well-known Gershwin tunes and a dance-centric staging that matches consumer expectations of a title so closely associated with original star Gene Kelly.

Meanwhile, the first shows for Carey Mulligan-Bill Nighy starrer “Skylight” ($253,369 for three previews) performed solidly, grossing 83% of its box office capacity and playing to full houses. Having a tougher go of it, predictably, was “Hand to God” ($36,122 for one), which, with an unfamiliar title and no stars in the cast, will likely prove a challenge to sell at least until critics (who loved the show when it played Off Broadway) weigh in next month.

Not only did a whopping five shows arrive on Broadway last week, but tourists did, too, as spring-break business helped propel sales overall to $23 million for 30 shows now running. Attendance jumped to 224,793, filling 88% of the Main Stem’s total seats.

Nearly every single individual show stepped up, with many of the biggest gains posted at the usual suspects of top visitor attractions like “The Lion King” ($1,824,627) and “Wicked” ($1,818,766) as well as “Matilda” ($949,057) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($847,147).

One of the biggest jumps of the week came at Larry David comedy “Fish in the Dark” ($1,223,970, a new house record), riding David’s fanbase all the way up to the fifth slot on the week’s top 10. Right behind it on the chart was “The Audience” ($1,085,327), drawing crowds with Helen Mirren’s return to the role of the Queen of England. Another star-driven play, Jake Gyllenhaal-Ruth Wilson outing “Constellations” ($704,605 for nine), played its final week and posted the highest sales of its entire run.

Among those titles struggling for purchase in the increasingly crowded field, “Honeymoon in Vegas” ($410,732) climbed by more than a third compared to the prior week, while Elisabeth Moss starrer “The Heidi Chronicles” ($321,977) remained steady in a week that accommodated some critics performances. (The show opens Thursday.)

The spring season and the city visitors it brings should continue to keep Broadway healthy next week, too, when the slate will gain further entrants “It Should Been You” (starting previews March 17), “Gigi” (March 19) and “Wolf Hall” (March 20).

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