End of Q3 Broadway Grosses report: Only 1 more to go.

I really can’t believe we’re about to enter our 4th and final Quarter of the year.  The year has flown by.  It seems like yesterday we were counting up the number of Tonys Book of Mormon was going to win, and we’re getting close to T-Time again soon.

But how’s business?

Here’s how the season is stacking up after three quarters:

Season to Date Gross:  $820,688,397
Last Season to Date Gross:  $769,572,296
Difference:  A whopping 6.6% increase

Season to Date Attendance:  8,829,459
Last Season to Date Attendance:  8,762,097
Difference:  A paltry .8%

Season to Date Playing Weeks:  1070
Last Season to Date Playing Weeks:  1113
Difference:  a “what the f” -3.9%

So let me sum up . . . massive increase in the gross, an almost flat-lined attendance, and a significant drop in the number of shows.

What does this mean?

Well, if you’re a megahit, like the aforementioned Book of M, then you’re as happy as a clam that you didn’t get picked for Carousel‘s clambake, because you’ve been using variable pricing to suck every cent from the consumer during peak times.

See, what would be better for the other shows out there, would be if the attendance would be going up as dramatically as the gross, as that would mean more people are going to the theater (in the defense of these stats, having such a drop in the playing weeks, but still posting a positive attendance gain is palatable).

Unfortunately, these statistics indicate that Broadway theater is becoming more elitist than it was before, and because of the success of the megahits, the middle-of-the-road shows are having a harder time scraping out their nut each week.

We’ve got 13 more weeks left.  Where will we end up?  Well, Q2 includes the “why can’t it happen 3x a year” Christmas week, so I don’t think we’ll be able to continue to support that enormous gross increase.  I’m predicting that the gross will be up over last year about 5.9-6%, and attendance rising about 1% (the new shows this Spring should bring us some more bodies).

In the meantime, I’m dying to do a survey of those premium ticket buyers . . . does paying $400 for a ticket decrease the amount of theatergoing they are doing?  In other words, if they previously went to the theater three times a year, are they now going only twice because they are paying so much for that super hit that they “must” see?

I’m not sure I want to know the answer.


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  • Michael says:

    Definitely, not Hollywood.
    Less for the vox populi and less profit.
    But is the quality of the pie as a whole better?
    Hollywood has a large % of brain-dead offerings.

  • Sue says:

    Well, I am one of those premium ticket buyers. I saw BOM with my family of 4 last year (my husband still thanks me for buying tickets pre-opening) and you don’t want to know what I just paid for tickets to see it again when my sister visits from the midwest. In fact, I won’t even tell her what I paid.
    For this survey of one: I saw way more Broadway shows last year than I ever have. I think I saw 10 (I live in the NJ ‘burbs) because I finally decided to start asking for multiple Broadway tickets for Christmas and my birthday. Also, a dear friend suggested making a New Year’s resolution to do more of whatever we enjoy and always say we’d like to do, and I picked Broadway. My goal is to always see everything on Broadway. Not there yet.
    Result: This premium ticket buyer (hubby MUST have an aisle seat) is filling seats more often, which means that perhaps the audiences have become even more elite than the data would lead you to believe.
    I think if someone can pay $400 for a theater ticket, there is not really an entertainment budget, i.e., they are not foregoing 3 other shows to see that one. They can afford to see multiple shows. But since there are $400 tickets, on top of a recession, increased travel expenses (cash tolls are now $12/car), parking, restaurant and hotel prices, a whole lot fewer people will be seeing Broadway shows at all.
    I know you love comments, and I would love a reply!

  • Cam says:

    First of all, I saw many positive numbers. There was an increase in attendance and gross sales during a recession! That right there should be highlighted. Four hundred dollar tickets? Who would Broadway be catering to? The upper 1% wealthy class? As an accountant and future producer I’d say filling all of the seats is most important and vital. It shows interest in my project and actually gets the most dollars. Let’s take an example. I have 800 seats to fill. At $400 per seat it’s $320,000 possible gross. However, let’s just say I only sell 200 seats at that price, I’ve only made $80,000. Whereas if I sold these same seats at $100 I’ve also made $80,000 and the theatre is full because it’s more affordable for a larger class of people. I’ve also brought in 600 more people needing concession stand and other puchase items as well. Food for thought.

  • Scott says:

    I refuse to pay $400+ to see a show.
    I am an avid theater going seeing just about everything every season. I insist on excellent seats, usually center in the orchestra. I am willing to pay full price, but prefer to use discount codes when possible. I believe that my loyalty to the theater should amount to something in the way of discounts or at least seating location.
    I have on several occasions gone over to the Eugene O’Neil box office to see if I could get regular tickets to The Book of Mormon. I have been open to waiting a year for these tickets. The advertised regular price ($155) includes a pair of seats running up the far side aisle against the walls of the theater and the last two rows of the orchestra. Basically, the vast majority of the house is premium. I was offended that they even advertise their regular price as $155 when only a very small percentage of orchestra seats are sold at that price. Why not be honest?
    The Book of Mormon will one day be struggling to fill their houses just like every other show. It might be a few years, but it will happen. I will just have to wait.

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