How high can ultra-hot “Hamilton” go? To judge by last week’s box office numbers, as high as the No. 4 slot in the Broadway top 10 — and that was only in the show’s third week of previews.
On the way to its Aug. 6 opening, hyped musical “Hamilton” ($1,490,816) came within spitting distance of $1.5 million and knocked aside big earners “The Book of Mormon” ($1,474,355) and “An American in Paris” ($1,388,952) to land behind the week’s top three. Benefiting from the kind of national profile that any new musical would kill for, the show’s become a celebrity-magnet hot ticket that’s inspired heady journalistic thinkpieces, fawning magazine profiles and backstage chitchat between Jon Stewart and President Obama. And Broadway watchers are betting that rave reviews are in the bag, given the major props the show already earned in its Off Broadway premiere earlier this year.
“Hamilton” hit its best-yet tally in its first week of eight previews, as opposed to the seven it had done over each of the prior weeks. The show seemingly has nowhere to go but up, but the coming week will likely register as something of a dent in sales, what with critics’ performances (beginning tonight) and that heavily comped Aug. 6 opening. But look for the production to swing back up — and potentially top itself — if “Hamilton” earns the anticipated raves later this week.
Overall, Broadway held steady last week in a healthy hot-weather frame, with high tourist interest in big-name titles encouraging both “The Lion King” ($2,624,288) and “Wicked” ($2,118,401) to play nine performances each as opposed to the usual eight, in order to capitalize on demand. Behind them, “Aladdin” ($1,854,407) topped its best-ever tally and landed in third place on the chart for the tenth week in a row.
For another indicator that tourists were in town last week, look to sales at long-runner “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,090,526), the 26-year-old show that returns to the millionaires’ club when crowds of city visitors turn out to catch a Broadway landmark. Newer-vintage crowdpleasers did plenty well, too, with “Penn & Teller on Broadway” ($1,304,660), “Finding Neverland” ($1,200,295), “The King and I” ($1,134,145) and “Something Rotten!” ($1,073,132) all topping $1 million each.
So did “An Act of God” ($1,074,778), the Jim Parsons comedy that played its final frame last week along with another star-driven play, “Fish in the Dark” ($841,809). Both of them posted gains spurred by last-minute business.
Not every show on the boards experienced an uptick, though. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” ($390,829 for seven performances), for instance, doesn’t seem to be attracting new audiences to the show that was a box office recordbreaker with Neil Patrick Harris in the title role, and critically well-received play “Hand to God” ($285,603) saw sales dip even lower than they’ve recently been. Even Tony champs “Fun Home” ($782,634) and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($842,068) downshifted a bit, though not enough to concern anyone.
Overall Broadway sales climbed about $700,000 to $28.8 million for 28 shows on the boards, and attendance rose about 4,000 (approximately the equivalent of the audiences accommodated at the extra performances of “Lion King” and “Wicked”) to 259,904. In the coming week, look for overall box office to begin to taper — thanks to the start of the August slowdown, to those “Hamilton” comps and to the fact that there are two fewer shows running now that Broadway is sans “Act of God” and “Fish in the Dark.”