For the fourth week in a row, the Broadway box office didn’t do quite as well last week as it did during the same week in 2015: Last week’s cumulative tally of about $25.5 million for 27 shows was down more than $3 million from the same week in 2015, when 28 shows were playing.
It’s a funny time for Broadway to be trending slightly downward, what with “Hamilton” ($2,041,865) making musical theater more visible and desirable than it’s been in a long time. Many people in the industry assign some of the blame to the Rockettes’ “New York Spectacular,” an annual offering that launched this year, taking a bite out of hot-weather tourist business and making the Street’s softer shows more vulnerable than usual. There’s also the theory that the high prices of “Hamilton” are having some fallout, in that consumers who would normally go see three or four shows are probably draining their annual theatergoing budget just to get into “Hamilton.”
Whatever the reason, the numbers for last week are off, with attendance (at 241,220 last week) down by 20,000 compared to the same window last year, and weekly sales have been down over the prior three weeks, too. Box office has also slowed somewhat for the season so far, down about $6 million (to $271.5 million) compared to 2015-16. Season-to-date attendance (2.6 million) is up a bit, but in terms of percentage of overall capacity, it’s at 83% compared to 88% last year.
Despite all that, many of the shows at the top remain as strong as ever. “The Lion King” ($2,554,453 for nine) played an extra performance last week and had an additional quarter of a million dollars to show for it, while “The Book of Mormon” ($1,462,531) also played a ninth and filled its houses to the brim all week. Along with “Hamilton,” last season’s “School of Rock” ($1,226,997) and “Waitress” ($1,042,654) and this season’s “Paramour” ($981,468) all joined older shows like “Wicked” ($1,899,742) and “Aladdin” ($1,711,547) in the Top 10.
Meanwhile, two shows threw in the towel. Jesse Tyler Ferguson solo show “Fully Committed” ($486,583) ended its limited engagement after a steady if unspectacular run. At the same time, the return of “Motown” ($587,549) hastily shuttered after failing to attract the same robust audience it did the first time around.
As those two closed, one more — “Cats” ($755,353 for seven) — opened. The show earned love-it-or-hate-it reviews, but given its promising sales during previews, the critics may not move the needle on this one much either way.