Bette Midler’s Birthday Breaks Broadway Box Office Record
Lee Seymour , CONTRIBUTOR
December 4, 2017
What goes up, must come down. Unless you’re Bette Midler, of course.
As the rest of Broadway sank into a post-turkey stupor, Hello, Dolly! sneaked in another house record at the Shubert Theater. Just $10,000 higher than last week, the $2.48 million gross nonetheless marks the 12th time this production has cracked its own ceiling. And on Midler’s birthday, to boot. Not a bad way to kick off one’s 72nd year. (Oh, and she earned a Grammy nomination for the cast album, too.)
The big question is: when will it turn a profit? Multiple investors and co-producers have expressed frustration that a show regularly grossing over $2 million each week has yet to return a $15.5 million capitalization (none would go on record, however, citing lead producer Scott Rudin’s notorious temper – not to mention several NDA’s). It’s possible the office is hoarding cash to present a big holiday check, but that may not be enough to mollify some of the more restless natives.
In the meantime, Midler is expected to clean up tidily at the box office, with premium seats now going for an industry record of $996 for her final weeks. If they don’t turn a profit by year’s end, something is deeply wrong with this picture.
Elsewhere, business was down, as expected. Almost every show sank after the tryptophan wore off. Tourist faves, in particular, fell hard – School Of Rock and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory both plummeted over $600,000 apiece. Hamilton crashed too, though its cushion is large enough that it remained the highest-grossing show overall, with $2.8 million in the bank.
Bucking the trend was Beautiful, which soared up over $100,000 to land in the $1 Million Club again. Impressive for a show that’s been on the books more than four years, and one not anchored by any pop star. It was the only show with anything close to a six-figure boost over last week’s numbers.
Perhaps riding the news that composer Sara Bareilles will be returning to the stage, Waitress stayed above $1 million as well. Ditto The Band’s Visit, which jump-started the Tony Award buzz with its combo of great reviews and record-breaking sales. Overall industry sales were down a whopping 23.3%, for a total of $29.98 million.
This week sees the opening of SpongeBob SquarePants and previews for Mark Rylance’s first post-Oscar Broadway gig, in Farinelli And The King. Farinelli was a big hit in London, while SpongeBob is still finding its sea-legs. But buzz is solid, and producers are hoping the reviews match.