Broadway Tops Its Biggest Week Ever

The New York Times
Broadway Tops Its Biggest Week Ever

The Broadway ticket sales boom hit a new peak over the holidays, with 32 shows contributing to the highest-grossing week in history.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically Broadway’s biggest of the year, with tourists in town and students off for the holidays. The total box-office gross reached $50.3 million, edging out the record set at the end of last year. But attendance was higher the same week last year, with 359,495 theatergoers. Higher ticket prices and the increased use of premium pricing models meant that more money came in last week, despite roughly 50,000 fewer tickets being sold.

Nineteen shows hit 100 percent capacity. Ten shows cleared $2 million. In what is now becoming routine, “Hamilton” once again broke the box office record it had set just a week before, raking in $3.8 million over eight performances. The show’s average ticket price hit $358.

Longstanding shows popular with tourists did particularly well. The revival of “Cats” saved its biggest week for last, pulling in $1.8 million over nine performances (adding an extra show is common for holiday weeks) before closing on Dec. 30. “Chicago,” which has been on Broadway for 21 years, had the highest-grossing week in its history, making $1.2 million over nine performances. The average ticket price was around $130, a drastic increase from the $46 it averaged when it arrived in 1996.

“Wicked” hit a new high, bringing in $3.3 million over nine shows. And Disney’s two heavyweight family shows, “The Lion King” and “Aladdin,” both broke house records, grossing $3.1 million and $2.4 million.

The boom is fueled by several factors, including soaring ticket prices, star power (like Bruce Springsteen and Bette Midler) and another banner year for New York tourism. According to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency, 2017 saw an estimated 61.8 million visitors, a record, while crime in the city dropped to a low not seen in decades. Ticket sales are likely to cool off in January and February, typically soft months for Broadway. But 2018 is ramping up to be huge overall, with “Frozen,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and “Mean Girls” all arriving with big built-in audiences.

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