Another opening, another Broadway show . . . but when?

A week ago, I posted a blog that chronicled the “closing times” of Broadway shows.  Just when did they happen?    And if we knew when, could we figure out why?  (Read that blog here.)

I got a bunch of emails asking us to do the same analysis on Broadway openings, so we did.  We studied the number of Broadway openings over the last 32 years, month by month, and graphed them below.

We tweaked the way we looked at this data just a bit, and instead of looking at the number of openings, we looked at the percentage of openings, so that in case there was a major fluctuation of shows opening from year to year, the data would be consistent.  (We went back and did the same thing for the Closing Study and found that there was very little change to the graph trend, by the way.)

Before I show you the pretty graphs, here is the Producer Perspective Summary of Broadway Openings:

  • In the past 32 years, Broadway has seen the most openings by month in April, followed by November, and then March.
  • The four months with the least number of openings are all in a row: June, July, August, and September.
  • During the past 32 years, the single month with the most openings was October of 1987, with 14.
  • In general, less shows are opening in January and February, and more are opening in March and April.
  • Months when shows tend to close follow a much more regular pattern than months when shows tend to open.

What trends do you see in the graphs below?


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  • Ed Weissman says:

    The problem with the pretty graphs is they are NOT directly comparable as the y axes differ. For some the top is 9, 16, 25, 35.

    • Dan Rich says:

      I was just about to comment on the same thing. You can’t really visually compare the graphs.

      It would also be interesting to see the show closing and opening data plotted on the same graphs.

  • Mark Briner says:

    I think a good secondary analysis would be what month most tony winning musical films open, and what months most early closers open. My personal philosphy is too many shows rush that April 30 opening to get nominations when they either full well know they are not ready or know that there’s a very competitive field or runaway favorite out there. Both types get swallowed up from lack of tony attention and close too early.

  • Mark Briner says:

    oops–where did the word “films” come in there! you know what I was saying…. lol

  • David says:

    I bet there would be a strong correlation between openings and closings . . . or maybe opening months would correlate strongly with closing months plus two months or whatever the average time it takes to turn a theatre over for a new production. Basically one can control the closing month more than the opening (at least in the aggregate) since in recent years theatres have been operating at close to full capacity. This may not have been true in prior decades when theatres were closing or sitting idle for long periods of time.

  • Ed Weissman says:

    I think the charts should have the same y axes and legitimate limited engagements should be removed from the closing information. However, a separate analysis of limited engagements might be helpful especially a comparison between resident theatre limited engagements and commercial limited engagements. I suspect that commercial limited engagements are either fall/winter or spring/summer.

  • April is the most interesting graph to me. You see a steady increase in the number of openings, which assume means that producers are hoping to get early Tony buzz (but maybe beat the reviews which might kill that buzz later on). As with everything else in modern entertainments, it all seems to revolve around the awards.

  • Dave says:

    I think David’s comment above is correct. Theoretically, there should be a link between when a show closes and when the next show opens, and the timing of a closing would be decided AFTER the timing of a new show is in place so as not to leave a theater dark any longer than necessary. The exception to that would be a show which experiences a rather sudden drop-off in sales and becomes no longer viable – better to have a dark theater than a money-losing production.

  • janiska says:

    Timing of openings might offer a guide to producers, but even more important is the quality of the show. The quality of any art form, especially one like musical theatre which involves many artists, cannot be measured and can negate all forms of logical analysis.

    Below is a linkedin discussion of musicals that might add an interesting element to the discussion.

  • Paul Argentini says:

    On the public johns:–In France they call them pissoires; in New York they used to call them telephone booths.

  • Good day! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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