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Broadway Box Office Slumps 15% in Back-to-School Slowdown

The annual post-Labor Day downturn took a bite out of the Broadway box office last week, with overall sales dropping 15% as locals shifted out of vacation mode and city tourism slowed.

The biggest decline of the week came at “Hello, Dolly!” ($913,712), precipitated by Bette Midler’s scheduled vacation. Midler’s alternate, Donna Murphy, played eight performances, and brought in sales that were still plenty respectable — which may bode well for Bernadette Peters, another theater-fan favorite taking over the role of Dolly in January.

In the wake of Labor Day, sales were down at almost every single production, adding up to a $4.3 million shortfall compared to the prior week. That brought Broadway’s cumulative gross to $23.6 million for 27 shows on the boards; attendance dropped more than 17,000 to 220,403, or 84% of total capacity.

Still, that was a better than the same week last year, when the 23 shows running brought in a total of $20.2 million. Broadway, of course, has added three big earners to the top 10 since then: Tony champ “Dear Evan Hansen” (claiming the No. 3 spot in the Top 10 with $1,678,438), “Come From Away” ($1,270,214) and “Hello, Dolly!,” which looks likely to earn more than $2 million a week for the remainder of Midler’s run.

Two other shows from last season, “Groundhog Day” ($688,475) and “Bandstand” ($539,707), were on their way out the door, but any last-minute business wasn’t enough to counteract the street’s overall downturn. Both shows will get one more chance at a surge before they shutter Sept. 17.

 

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