Broadway box office and attendance numbers hit record highs

28 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Broadway Sets Sales and Attendance Records With Tourism Boom.

Buoyed by a rising stream of tourists, the unexpected popularity of an adolescent with Asperger’s syndrome, the star power of Larry David and Helen Mirren, and the enduring appeal of a lion named Simba, the Broadway season that just ended was the highest-grossing ever.

It’s boom time for Broadway: Overall attendance and grosses hit records in the 2014-2015 season, with 13 million people in the seats and $1.3 billion taken in at box offices. “The combination of diversity of subject matter, different curtain times, different pricing all add to it,” said Charlotte St.Broadway hit a new landmark in the 2014-15 season, attracting more than 13 million theatergoers and pulling in $1.37 billion in a record-breaking 52-week frame. The Broadway League, a trade organization that represents producers, said on Tuesday that the 40 Broadway theaters had sold a record $1.365 billion worth of tickets in the year that ended Sunday.

– Broadway’s revenue and attendance figures both hit record highs for the third season in a row, fed largely by premium prices and a steady stream of more shows. Attendance from prior seasons hasn’t even come within spitting distance of 13 million in the past: The closest it came was 12.53 million in 2010-11, which for bookkeeping purposes was a 53-week season rather than the standard 52.

The previous high for a 52-week season was 12.33 in 2011-12. (Last season hit 12.21 million, and the 2012-13 season reported 11.57 million theatergoers.) The $1,365,232,182 in cumulative box office is also a new record, although given the rise of premium-price ticketing and the upward trend of ticket prices in general, that bump comes as less of a surprise. Several factors contributed to the growth, theater and tourism industry officials say: a boom in overall visits to New York City, a relatively healthy economy, a perception that Times Square is safer and more family-friendly than it had been, and a diversity of theatrical offerings. “I came to New York City to visit the town, but I have to be on Broadway,” said Paola Ruggiero, 39, of Lima, Peru. The numbers were boosted by steadily increasing ticket prices, high demand from tourists swelling Times Square, reconfigured seating in some theatres, easier tools to buy tickets and the use of premium-priced seating, in which some tickets are snapped up for very high amounts.

Part of the surge is due to an increase in the total number of playing weeks across all Broadway shows: The combined total of 1,626 weeks was an 8.7% increase over 2013-2014. Though that season saw more new shows that opened, 44, it also had several early closures that left theaters dark or in transition, such as “The Velocity of Autumn,” “Let It Be” and “Bronx Bombers.” This season had its flops, too, of course, including “Doctor Zhivago” and “Living on Love,” but it has also had “Fish in the Dark,” which has had full houses since it started previews in February. There is a total of 2,080 total playing weeks available each year. “We’re giving theatregoers what they want, including a variety of musicals and plays, recognizable brands and new shows. Among the Street’s individual titles, “The Lion King” ($101.9 million) — a consistent smash that has managed to roar to new life over the last few years — set a sales record for a single show over one season. Also doing well in 2014-15 were the usual suspects at the top of the Broadway charts, including “Wicked” ($91.7 million) and “The Book of Mormon” ($84.2 million).

Contributing to the season’s muscular totals was the fact that Broadway has benefited in recent years from an influx of ongoing, strong-selling musicals that have joined those long-running successes — plus “The Phantom of the Opera” ($47.7 million this season), “Jersey Boys” ($41 million), “Mamma Mia!” ($35.6 million) and “Chicago” ($28.9 million) — in regularly bringing in money to Broadway. Last season’s “Aladdin” ($75.9 million) and “Beautiful” ($61.4 million) are still doing robust business, as are 2012-13 openers “Kinky Boots” ($59.9 million) and “Matilda” ($51.3 million). In addition, the recent revival of live theater on television, with NBC broadcasting small-screen revivals of “Peter Pan” in 2014 and “The Sound of Music” in 2013, have merged the industries. This spring, newly minted crowdpleasers such as “An American in Paris” ($11.2 million), “Finding Neverland” ($10.1 million), “The King and I” ($9.4 million) and “Something Rotten” ($6.6 million) all look like they’re gearing up for healthy summers.

The season also boasted not one but two plays that have, in a rare turn, proved successful enough to play open-ended runs, with starry comedy “It’s Only a Play” ($36.3 million), blessed by big-money returns in its first months, and Tony contender “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($28.8 million) contributing significantly to Broadway’s 2014-15 totals. Buoyed by the publicity spotlight of the theater awards season, Tony contenders such as “American in Paris” ($1,349,932), “Something Rotten!” ($1,064,165) and “Fun Home” ($627,641) all hit best-ever numbers. Programs like Family First Nights, which offers specially priced tickets for families, or 2-for-1 promotions like Broadway Week, facilitated by the city’s tourism arm NYC & Company, have widened the reach.

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