The temporary rise marks the first time premium seats — which come with Broadway’s highest price tags — have hit four digits. Prior to that, premium seats have topped out just below the $1,000 mark. (For instance, premium, front-row seats to “Hello, Dolly!” this week are going for $998.)
There’s a distinction between premium seats — the prime locations that producers sell for big money to take advantage of high demand — and the regular tiers of Broadway ticket prices, which, being cheaper, sell faster. The regular top ticket price of “Hamilton” is $199, which is in line with a lot of Broadway’s biggest hits, while the show’s top premium ticket had already set a record at $849 a pop.
From a producer’s perspective, premium-priced seating provides a way to match the prices that high-demand shows are getting on the secondary market — thereby clawing back revenue that would otherwise go to third parties like scalpers and brokers. Meanwhile, the theater industry is quick to point out that Broadway pricing also exists on the other end of the spectrum, with lower price points usually available for titles that aren’t as hot as “Hamilton.”
Still, the rapid ascent of the top price tag can be enough to startle any theatergoer. That could lead to a perception problem for Broadway, with many in the industry worrying that the average consumer will start to believe that theater has priced itself out of the reach of buyers without the deepest of pockets.
“Hamilton,” of course, isn’t the only show to capitalize on the huge spike in demand that hits Broadway every year during the holidays. Many shows will sell more premium-priced seats than usual this week, with the biggest money going to the most prominent titles. Weekly grosses at “Hamilton” have already gotten close to $3.5 million in prior weeks; observers will be watching to see how close the holiday pricing gets the show to $4 million.
The Broadway box office will slow down — and prices will return to earth, relatively — after the holidays, when a post-vacation lull in traffic causes sales to dip every January.