×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fast-Rising Prices Drive Broadway to $1.6 Billion Year

A pack of ultra-hot shows, combined with the rising prominence and price tags of premium seats, will push the Broadway box office to a new calendar-year record of more than $1.6 billion in 2017.

As sky-high demand for shows like “Hamilton,” “Springsteen on Broadway,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Dear Evan Hansen” prompts producers to dial up prices on premiums to new heights (with premium tickets for “Hamilton” hitting a record $1,150 this week), Broadway’s blockbuster business has exploded fast enough to induce whiplash. Just last year, the Street’s biggest successes barely topped $100 million apiece in a single 52-week frame; in 2017, “Hamilton” has raked in a whopping $154 million.

Technically, there’s still one more week to go in 2017, which Broadway bookkeepers will count as a 53-week calendar year rather than the usual 52. (The deviation is periodically necessary to line up 365-day years with 52 week-long sales windows that are measured Monday through Sunday.) But with 52 of 2017’s 53 weeks under Broadway’s belt — and the current week poised to be the biggest of the year, thanks to the annual Christmas-New Year’s boom — there’s more than enough data to get a good idea of where the year will end.

For the 52-week frame that finished Dec. 24, Broadway’s cumulative sales rang in at $1.59 billion, with the current week poised to add more than $50 million on top of that. (Last year’s holiday-week tally came within spitting distance of $50 million, and will easily break that record this year.)

As “Hamilton” surpasses $150 million for 2017, “The Lion King” ($107 million) and “Wicked” ($94 million), two of the Street’s most enduring successes, will also land spots on the upper tiers of a Top 10 that’s set to include “Hello, Dolly!” ($83 million), “Aladdin” ($79,564,244), and “Dear Evan Hansen” ($75,014,496), as well as spring sleeper “Come From Away” ($53 million). (All figures are almost but not quite complete, with tallies from the still-unfinished current week still to be added.)

There were plenty of stars on the boards, but no box office giants along the lines of Denzel Washington (lined up for this spring in “The Iceman Cometh”), so the top-selling playing of 2017 was the little comedy that could, “The Play That Goes Wrong” ($15.6 million), which opened in April and has sold modestly but steadily ever since. The limited runs of Kevin Kline headliner “Present Laughter” ($12.4 million) and “Oslo” ($10.9 million), both Tony winners, also made marks.

One of Broadway’s biggest sellers, “Springsteen on Broadway,” opened in October and has so far pulled in a huge $26 million from just 55 performances. Thanks to a top ticket of $850, the average price paid for a seat to the show now stands at $496, with “Hamilton” ($275), “Hello, Dolly!” ($187), and “Dear Evan Hansen” ($180) also among the spendiest on the Street.

From one perspective, the rapid rise of Broadway’s grosses just represents an official, on-the-books record of earnings that would otherwise be going to the secondary market, without the premium pricing that gives resellers some competition. But as premium price tags spiral higher and higher, many in the industry worry that the theater business is in danger of pricing itself out of the reach of all but the wealthiest consumers.

Broadway’s 2017 calendar year ends Sunday, Dec. 31, with holiday-week tallies due to be tabulated and released Jan. 2.

More Legit

  • Signature Theatre Celebrates Millionth Subsidized Ticket

    Signature Theatre Offers $35 Subsidized Tickets, Celebrates Millionth Sold

    Just the other night, a Manhattan cab driver told Signature Theatre executive director Harold Wolpert that he couldn’t afford to take his girlfriend to a show. In response, Wolpert motioned to his theater, saying that they offer $35 subsidized tickets. The driver said he’d try it out. “It was a great moment,” Wolpert said. “We’re [...]

  • SOCRATES The Public Theater

    Tim Blake Nelson Waxes Philosophical on Writing a Play About Socrates

    Despite Tim Blake Nelson’s knack for playing folksy characters in films such as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” in his soul lurks the heart of a classicist. Nelson, who stars in HBO’s “Watchmen” series this fall, has also penned the play “Socrates,” now running at New York’s Public Theater through June 2. Doug Hughes directs, [...]

  • TodayTix - Brian Fenty

    TodayTix Banks $73 Million to Boost Theater and Arts Ticketing App

    TodayTix, a Broadway-born mobile ticketing start-up, is looking to expand into a bigger global media and transaction enterprise with a capital infusion of $73 million led by private-equity firm Great Hill Partners. The investment brings TodayTix’s total capital raised to over $100 million, according to CEO and co-founder Brian Fenty. Part of the new funding [...]

  • Ethan Hawke, Bobby Cannavale and Griffin

    BAM Gala Marks Leadership Change, Celebrates Brooklyn as 'Cultural Center of New York'

    Wednesday’s annual gala celebrating the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) served as a poignant moment of transition for the New York stalwart of contemporary performance. As long-time artistic director Joe Melillo, who along with Harvey Lichtenstein transformed BAM into a vanguard of progressive art, prepares to pass the torch to new leadership, gathered patrons and [...]

  • Tootsie Santino Fontana

    Listen: Santino Fontana on How Broadway's 'Tootsie' Was Adapted for Our Times

    Broadway’s “Tootsie” has turned into one of this season’s Tony Awards frontrunners, winning raves for its deftly funny update of potentially problematic source material — and for a firecracker cast led by Tony nominee Santino Fontana (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Frozen”), who makes his character’s transformation, from difficult actor Michael Dorsey to female alter ego Dorothy Michaels, [...]

  • Death of a Salesman review

    London Theater Review: 'Death of a Salesman'

    August Wilson famously disavowed the idea of an all-black “Death of a Salesman.” In 1996, he declared any such staging “an assault on our presence and our difficult but honorable history in America.” Arthur Miller’s antihero is no everyman, Wilson implied; Willy Loman is very specifically white. Critic John Lahr was inclined to agree: “To [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content