Powered by megahits like “Hamilton,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King,” Broadway box office hit a new high last week, ringing in just slightly less than $50 million and setting a new attendance record to boot.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always ultraprofitable for Broadway, as tourist crowds descend on the city and much of the street takes advantage of spiking demand to schedule an extra ninth performance and clean up on premium-priced seats. This year, a robust slate of strong-selling successes — led by megahot ticket “Hamilton” ($3,335,430 for eight performances) — added up to nearly 25 shows raking in more than $1 million apiece. The overall cume of $49.7 million (for 33 shows running) made the week ending Jan. 1, 2017 the highest-grossing in Broadway history, with the attendance of 359,495 also setting a new high-water mark.
A $3 million week used to be a Broadway pipe dream for individual productions, but the rise of premium pricing is starting to make it look downright commonplace for the biggest shows. Last week “Hamilton,” “Wicked” ($3,162,603 for nine) and “The Lion King” ($3,098,330 for nine) each pulled in more than $3 million, while “Aladdin” ($2,583,344), “The Book of Mormon” ($2,108,804) and “School of Rock” ($2,022,136) nabbed more than $2 million apiece (with nine performances from each title).
Also topping $2 million was magic show “The Illusionists” ($2,397,106), which, taking advantage of a different labor deal than the one under which more traditional theater productions operate, played a whopping 17 performances before it closed Jan, 1. House records were broken at shows including just-closed “Matilda” ($1,902,189 for nine) and soon-to-close “Jersey Boys” ($1,778,189 for nine) while “Fiddler on the Roof” ($1,848,030 for nine) and “Something Rotten!” ($1,478,302 for nine) also closed, with last-minute sales helping each hit a final high.
Newer musicals “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” ($1,371,950 for eight), “A Bronx Tale” ($1,293,125 for nine) and “Dear Evan Hansen” ($1,266,197 for nine) topped themselves too. Among plays, “The Front Page” ($1,291,255 for nine) was the biggest earner (and would have made even more if star Nathan Lane hadn’t been out of three shows), with Cate Blanchett starrer “The Present” ($969,495 for seven previews) also going strong and “Oh, Hello on Broadway” ($911,602 for nine) setting a new house record. Tony champ “The Humans” ($814,555 for nine) had its best-ever week in advance of a Jan. 15 closing.
The coming month will see nine more shows make their exit as the annual January tourism lull brings numbers back down to earth. “The Color Purple” ($1,172,091 for nine), “Falsettos” ($712,169 for eight), “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” ($395,622 for nine) and “The Encounter” ($332,416 for nine) all play their last in the coming week.