It Happens To The Stock Market And It Happens To Broadway.

We had our own version of a “market correction” 2 days ago when Color Purple announced that it is closing.

Although everyone knew that Purple was showing signs of weakness post-Fantastia, the announcement, leaving the Broadway Theater empty during the Spring, was a bit of a shock, just like the Dow dropping a few hundred points in one day.

I should have predicted this one.  I picked up on a sign that we were due for a correction a few weeks ago when Variety reported that Broadway grossed 15 million on 30 shows.

But what did it gross during the same week last year?  17 million.  On 28 shows.

2 more million.  2 LESS shows.  With last year’s prices.

Something had to give.  And it was Oprah.

While the closing of Purple is unfortunate, let’s hope that it helps stabilize the street and sends us (and the Dow) back up.

This brings up an interesting point.  Too often we worry about watching our grosses from week to week.  We celebrate being “up from last week”, or lament being down.  For those of you who have never seen a box office statement, look at this . . . you’ll see that the weekly comparison is part of the automatic reporting.

What’s the problem with obsessing over week to week comparisons?  Too many factors that affect sales change from week to week:  holidays, Super Bowls, weather, etc.  What we really should study is the gross changes from year to year.

Unfortunately, since the average run of a new musical on Broadway is only 52.67 weeks, most people don’t bother to look at yearly trends.

Here’s a graph of three years of data for one my shows.  Look at how closely the weeks line up from year to year.  Cool, huh?

Your sales trends emerge naturally.  When you discover them, that’s when you can really put your producing skills to work.  Discounts (or cutting discounts during busier weeks), expense cutting, etc.

When I look at a graph like this, I think of the low points like enemy targets, and my initiatives are my missiles.  By analyzing the trends over several years, I’ve isolated by targets.  And when you isolate your targets, your missiles are much more effective.

Don’t have a show that has run years?  Graph overall Broadway/Off-Broadway trends from year to year.  It is better than nothing.

(Anyone have any ideas what the giant spike is on that graph?)

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Comments
  • Kevin McGowan says:

    Giant spike = Broadway stagehands strike. It was boomtime for the few Broadway and all off-Broadway shows that were open. The other big spike that happens every year is the Christmas/new years holiday spike, where shows can make lots of money with all the tourists in town.

  • Nate says:

    Gonna have to second the strike notion.

  • A. Scott Falk says:

    Yeah, I figured that had to be the stagehand strike, because it’s the one thing that happened only this year (not every year at the same time), and normally a spike wouldn’t happen like that only in the third year without extraordinary circumstances.

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