Broadway Box Office Tips Up For Blockbusters As Star-Based Shows Slip
by Jeremy Gerard
July 31, 2017 1:55pm
Broadway receipts were up slightly last week even as an old lesson held true: A hit that doesn’t hitch its wagon to a star is a better long-term bet than a star-driven vehicle. That was certainly the case for a couple of newsworthy shows, notably Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, which continued to slip following the departure of the musical’s Pierre, Josh Groban.
The show whiplashed last week from one announcement – that Mandy Patinkin had agreed to a 3-week late summer run as Pierre in an effort to boost sales going into the fall – with another announcing that Patinkin had pulled out in the wake of protests that the move was disrespectful of Okierete “Oak” Onaodowan, the actor who had replaced Groban. The $12-million production, at the Shubert Organization’s Imperial Theatre, slipped $18K to $905.5K, a 25 per cent drop since Groban’s run, which averaged $1.2 million per week.
A steeper plunge was felt at Tony contender A Doll’s House, Part 2, at the Shuberts’ Golden. Although the show has struggled at the box office despite great reviews and a lauded cast led by Laurie Metcalf, the show rang up $647K in sales during the original cast’s final week. Last week, sales dropped to $284.7K, just shy of 40 per cent of its gross potential. Although the Lucas Hnath dramedy has officially extended through the end of the year, it will depend on re-reviews (coming next week) and great word of mouth to sustain the run.
Looking at the situation from the other end of the telescope, when Hello, Dolly! star Bette Midler missed one of her seven scheduled performances the week before last (the show’s eighth performance is played each week by Donna Murphy), sales fell $80K as customers lined up for refunds. Last week, with things back to normal, the show made up that amount and more, jumping $97K at the Shubert Theatre to $2.25M, with an average ticket price of $191.98. And four of the top-six grossing shows – Hamilton, The Lion King,Wicked and Aladdin – showed no signs of wavering as the titles themselves are the brand customers trust.
The 5 top-grossing shows were:
• Hamilton ($3.01 million at the Nederlander Organization’s Richard Rodgers; $280.78 average ticket)
• The Lion King ($2.6 million at the Nederlanders’ Minskoff; $169.81)
• Hello, Dolly! ($2 million at the Shubert; $191.98)
• Wicked ($1.95 million at the Nederlanders’ Gershwin; $129.67)
• Dear Evan Hansen ($1.7 million at the Shuberts’ Music Box; $214.04)
Week 10 of the 2016-2017 Broadway season also saw a landmark for long-running smash The Book of Mormon, which reported grosses exceeding $500 million at Jujamcyn Theatres’ Eugene O’Neill after six and a half years of sold-out houses; internationally, the number surpassed $1 billion.
Ticket sales for Week 10 across 30 shows totaled $31.9 million, according to the trade group Broadway League, up 1.6 per cent from Week 9, and 25 per cent over the same week a year ago. Average ticket price was up a bit, to $119.80 from $119.45.