Well, that didn’t take long. In only its third week of previews, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” has set a new record at the Broadway box office — by a wide margin — for the highest single-week gross reported by a nonmusical in Broadway history.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” ($2,138,859) overshot the $2 million mark in its first full week of eight previews, and easily topped the previous all-time record for a play, which was the $1.6 million grossed by the final week of Bryan Cranston in “All the Way” in 2014. “Harry Potter” got up to No. 5 on the chart last week. even with some 300 tickets per performance going for $40 or less in the 1,600-seat Lyric Theatre, which is about 200 seats larger than the Neil Simon, where “All the Way” played.
Cranston was the star name that drove demand for “All the Way” through the roof. For “Cursed Child,” the show’s star is the Harry Potter brand, with an international audience of fervent fans that are helping the two-part, epic play sell like a globe-spanning musical success. Even with all those lower-priced tickets, the average price paid per seat on Broadway came in at almost $170, with a top premium ticket set at a relatively sane $286.50.
Those strong sales for “Harry Potter” came in what was overall a robust week for Broadway, thanks in part to the fact that New York City public schools were on vacation last week. Total cumulative sales rang in at $42.6 million for 36 shows running, and attendance ticked upward to 327,949 or 95% of the street’s total capacity.
“Harry Potter” was far from the only show that did business worth celebrating. “Frozen” ($2,275,395) broke another house record at the St. James Theatre, while “Three Tall Women” ($779,656) climbed significantly in the wake of the glowing notices it received after its opening. “Mean Girls” ($1,176,175) predictably downticked a bit, due to press comps and its April 8 opening, but it’s said the show’s advance sales have since gotten a nice jolt.
A whopping 18 productions reported grosses of $1 million or more each last week, among them “Carousel” ($1,190,735), which opens later this week. So does “Children of a Lesser God” ($375,274), which looks like it could use the PR boost that a favorably reviewed opening could provide. Meanwhile, Denzel Washington headliner “The Iceman Cometh” ($872,286 for six previews) continued to play to packed houses.
After this week, there’s one more rush of shows coming later this month, and then it’ll be off to the (Tony Award) races, with a clearer idea of what shows are top awards contenders — and which titles are benefiting at the box office from the attention.