“Fish in the Dark,” the new stage comedy written by and starring Larry David, exploded out of gate at the Broadway box office last week, making good on its jaw-dropping $13.5 million advance with booming sales reported for its first week of performances.
“Fish in the Dark” ($993,940 for seven previews) logged a stellar sum for a seven-show week in one of Broadway’s smaller houses, the 1,073-seat Cort Theater. The show landed at number five on the week’s top 10 chart — still a relatively rare feat for a play, even star-driven sales magnets — and played to full houses all week. That winning streak looks poised to continue for the rest of the show’s limited run, no matter what the critics have to say when the show opens next month.
David’s run helped warm up Broadway a bit in what is traditionally one of the Main Stem’s slower sales periods. Also heating up the Rialto were the return to form of “The Lion King” ($1,463,314) and “Aladdin” ($1,203,871), back up to eight-performance weeks after canceling one show each due to concern over the prior frame’s snowstorm. “Cabaret” ($932,882) gained momentum, too, in the second-to-last week of Emma Stone’s run in the revival. (She exits Feb. 15, with Sienna Miller taking over for the final weeks of the production’s engagement.)
Otherwise, some shows were up, some shows were down last week, with the net effect bringing Broadway’s cumulative total to $18.8 million for 27 shows on the boards. That’s about $1 million ahead of last year at the same time (when there was one fewer production running). Attendance climbed 12,000 from the previous week to 189,192, or about 75% of Broadway’s overall seating capacity for the week.
Among the shows seeing larger individual declines last week was Bradley Cooper topliner “The Elephant Man” ($721,450), but that’s because two weekend performances were cancelled over the weekend to allow Cooper to attend the Directors Guild of America Awards, where he presented an honor to his “American Sniper” director Clint Eastwood. “Elephant Man” looks likely to gain steam in the coming weeks as it wraps up a run that ends Feb. 21, in time for Cooper to attend the Academy Awards.
Also down was “On the Town” ($379,194), falling to a notably low number for a large-scale musical despite the strong reviews it earned. Former box office juggernaut “It’s Only a Play” ($474,936) also slipped a bit compared to the prior week, as did sales-challenged musical “Honeymoon in Vegas” ($359,163).
Among the week’s entrances and exits, “If/Then” ($563,156) returned from its weeklong hiatus, and Hugh Jackman starrer “The River” ($503,377) played its final week, having recouped its capitalization costs way back in December.
Now that February’s here, Broadway can look forward to overall sales picking up as new shows join the slate — such as musical revival “On the Twentieth Century” and Helen Mirren outing “The Audience,” both of which start up this week — and as spring break weeks start to bring tourists back to New York.