“Recession? What Recession,” says movie biz. What says Broadway?

All those Wall St. folk that thought they were playing it safe by going into investment banking instead of movie-making are shaking their heads this week after Variety reported a 13% increase in Box Office grosses for ’09 versus the same period in ’08.
What the?
There are lots of arguments explaining the surge as discussed in this article, but one of the most common (but as yet unverified) is that people are going to movies as an economical escape.
Variety’s article led me to decide to take our own temperature as well.  How are we shaping up in ’09?  Could we be benefiting from the current climate, like we did in The Depression?
Here’s where we stand:
So far this year, the numbers are:

$149,741,807 gross sales
1,915,165  tickets sold

As of this time last year, the numbers were as follows:

$162,495,915 gross sales
2,243,473 tickets sold

That’s a 7.85% decrease in gross sales and a 14.63% decrease in tickets sold.
Not so good, my friends.  Not so good . . .
But wait.  There’s a silver-plated lining in there if you look deep enough.
Last year we had an average of 32.5 productions per week during this 10 week period.
This year we have an average of 24 productions per week.
The drop in gross and tickets sold makes more sense now, right?  Well, if you keep on doin’ some crunching you’ll see that the average gross of those 32.5 productions during the first 10 weeks of last year was $499,987.
The average gross of the 24 productions running in this year’s first 10 weeks?
So, if you were one of the fortunate few shows that made it through 1st of the year, put your head down and kept on going, chances are that the recession is paying off.
Now, what will happen when that 24 number gets back up into the 30s this Spring is another matter entirely . . .
  • Aaron says:

    Do you think it will reach in to the 30’s in terms of number of productions? I’ve been seeing issues posted about shows that are having difficulty reaching full capitalization. HAIR just BARELY made it and they had to take on some 30-odd producers to do it…and its still not as good as it was in the park.
    Do you think this would be a good opportunity for Off-Broadway shows to really benefit since their ticket prices can be significantly cheaper?

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