When are the worst times of the year for Broadway shows?

If you asked anyone when the worst weeks of the year are for Broadway, I’d bet you the brand new pre-release of The Book of Mormon CD that I got yesterday the answer you’d hear would be September and January.

But is that true?

I’ve never been a fan of anecdotal evidence, so with some help from one of my assistants, Jason Najjoum, I looked at the weekly grosses of Broadway shows for the last ten years, and found the 10 weeks with the lowest average weekly grosses.

Here’s the list, starting with the weeks with the worst averages:

1.  Week #5 – First week of February
2.  Week #18 – Last week of April
3.  Week #10 – First week of March
4.  Week #9 – Last week of February
5.  Week #44 – Last week of October
6.  Week #19 – First week of May
7.  Week #6 – Second week of February
8.  Week  #46 – Second week of November
9.  Week #17 – Third week of April
10. Week #4 – Last week of January

Funny, isn’t it?  September doesn’t appear in the Top 10.  And there are two consecutive three week runs in this list:

– Last week of January, First week of February and Second week of February.

and . . . the surprise that I was looking for . .

– Third week of April, Last week of April and First week of May.

So, looking at the average weekly grosses only, we just went through one of the worst times of the year.

Now, it may be no one’s fault but our own.  While I do believe that late April/May is not the best time for theatergoing, remember we are looking at average weekly grosses.  So if we’re putting more product on the street during this periods (and we know we are in late April/May because the Tony eligibility cutoff is usually at end of April), we’re driving our own average grosses down.

It’s easy to look at the best weeks of the year.  It’s hard to look at the worst.  But this is where we can learn the most.  By looking at the above, we know when we have to market more aggressively.  We know when we should avoid opening.

And we know that what we think we know is not always what’s the truth.

It’s not the nose that knows.  It’s the numbers that know.


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Bob Beimers says:

    What about admission numbers instead of grosses? Are the April/May numbers indicative of papering the houses?
    30 years of watching audiences tells me there is a drop in butts-in-seats after school begins in the fall. Also a similar drop between school ending in mid June and vacations starting after the 4th of July. I watched these cycles from the sound console on Miss Saigon for its last 8.5 years.

  • Elisa Clayton says:

    Great info!

  • steven.stevenjconners@gmail.com says:

    If you’re not plugged into this, you might take a look.
    –Steve Conners

  • Kim says:

    Ken, I love that you do these breakdowns. You’re waking up the analytical side of my brain. See hasn’t seen much daylight! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Kim says:

    I meant “she” hasn’t seen… 🙂

  • Douglas Hicton says:

    Did you also find out which weeks have been the best?

  • It’s easy to look at the best weeks of the year. It’s hard to look at the worst. But this is where we can learn the most. By looking at the above, we know when we have to market more aggressively. We know when we should avoid opening.

  • Kristi R-C says:

    That’s also why the first week in Feb was traditionally “Kids Night on Broadway” as a way to increase revenue/attendance. Now it’s expanded into a broader audience development program.

  • Tobin Vance says:

    I had a chance to see the play when I was in New York over the summer. It
    was everything that was advertised, down to the crass bits about genital
    mutilation. I was expecting that, so I still found it very, very funny.
    I should say I’ve been a fan of South Park since the days of Jesus vs. Santa
    Claus, and I thought the South Park movie was great. I didn’t have a problem
    finding tickets, btw. I found Book of Mormon discount tickets online at
    Go see it if you can. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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