After the annual post-Labor Day slowdown, the Broadway box office climbed last week in a rise led by Bette Midler, back at “Hello, Dolly!,” and by two shows that got surges of last-minute sales before they closed.
Midler’s return to “Hello, Dolly!” ($2,322,114) after a week of vacation broke the house record at the Shubert Theater — and stands as a record for the Shubert Organization as a whole, according to the production. That may seem hard to believe, given that we’re now in the era of blockbuster grosses and the Shuberts have had plenty of hits in their 17 Broadway venues (including 30-year-old “The Phantom of the Opera,” which pulled in $933,807 last week). But $2 million and $3 million weeks are a newer phenomenon, and the current shows that most often attain them — “Hamilton” ($2,932,511), “The Lion King” ($1,791,715) and “Wicked” ($1,492,477) — are in Nederlander theaters.
Most individual shows reported gains last week as the Street’s overall attendance bumped upward. Two closing productions also made notable contributions to the cumulative total, with “Groundhog Day” ($892,581) and “Bandstand” ($757,431) each climbing by more than $200,000 in advance of their Sept. 17 closings. “War Paint” ($615,786), meanwhile, lifted by an impressive 20%.
Otherwise, there were few gains or shortfalls of note for the week. The overall Broadway total climbed by $3 million to $26.6 million for 28 shows, with attendance rising 18,000 to 238,136, or 89% of the overall capacity.
Last week’s rise seems likely to prove brief, however. Rosh Hoshana, one of the Jewish holidays that typically slow down Broadway business in September, comes later this week, and the annual United Nations General Assembly, which can book up hotels in the area and cause security hassles in parts of the city, usually slows down sales as well.