What are the most popular Broadway Theaters? (Updated 2018).

I got a lot of emails about last month’s “What The Tuck” blog and Broadway theater availability in general . . . which got me wondering . . . which Broadway Theaters are booked the most often?

Because if we’re facing an availability crisis then it would make sense that Producers should look at the theaters that are likely to be free, right? (Hmmmm, maybe “free” isn’t the right word.)

And at the same time, if a theater has a low occupancy, then perhaps the location, location, location of that specific theater isn’t prime for recoupment, recoupment, recoupment.  Right?

So, I dove deep into the archives of the Playbill Vault and IBDB and counted up the number of days that theaters were booked vs. dark over the past 30 years (from January 1, 1983-May 1, 2013), and listed them below, in order of the “most popular.”

Before you look . . . guess.  Go ahead.  Guess which theaters you think have been the most booked, and which have been the least booked (oh – one note – I took out all the Non-Profit theaters, because, well, they have to book their theaters to stay in business).

Did you guess?  No peeking!

Here’s the list of the most popular Broadway Theaters:

Theater Name Occupancy Percentage
Winter Garden 96.49%
New Amsterdam 94.27%
*Since theater re-opened in 1997
Imperial 87.42%
Majestic 83.45%
Gerald Schoenfeld 80.00%
Broadway 78.19%
Richard Rodgers 76.70%
Palace 76.53%
Foxwoods 74.55%
*Since theater opened in 1997
Helen Hayes 74.25%
Eugene O’Neill 71.50%
Gershwin 71.27%
Al Hirschfeld 70.64%
August Wilson 70.54%
St. James 70.12%
Booth 68.19%
Minskoff 67.76%
Broadhurst 66.01%
Marquis 66.00%
Shubert 65.44%
Neil Simon 64.06%
Walter Kerr 63.23%
Bernard B. Jacobs 62.14%
John Golden 59.55%
Ambassador 58.92%
Ethel Barrymore 58.80%
Lunt-Fontanne 58.35%
Circle in the Square 57.67%
Brooks Atkinson 55.46%
Nederlander 54.59%
Music Box 52.27%
Cort 37.72%
Lyceum 37.18%
Longacre 27.38%
Belasco 26.21%

So, how’d you do?  Did you guess right?

There’s a lot to derive from the data on this chart, but of course the most obvious bit is at the end:

Three of out of the last four occupied theaters are East of 7th Avenue.

Oh, and here’s the other thing . . . if this were a list of apartment buildings in New York City, the rent would be lower for the buildings towards the bottom, right?

Hint, hint.  And you know who you are.

(Shout out to my Super Assistant, Kayla, and her Super Intern, Kate, for the hours compiling this super-duper data.)

UPDATE: Here are a few fun facts that we unearthed during our data digging:
-The only show in the past 30 years that ran longer than a year in the Longacre Theatre was the 2010 revival of La Cage Aux Folles
-The Majestic has had just 1 show and the Winter Garden has had just 2 shows since 1983
Godspell was the 5th longest running show at Circle in the Square in the past 30 years
-The American Airline’s Theatre has had the most productions is the shortest span of time, 40 shows in 13 years
-In the past 30 years the theater with the most shows has been Circle in the Square with 51 shows
-12 theaters still have their original name

(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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Want to read more about the long-running shows that are filling these Broadway Theatres? Read my post Who/What is Fueling the Broadway Box Office Fire to gain more insight! Also be sure to check out What Harry Potter’s Theater Choice Means for Independent Producers to hear my thoughts on this blockbuster play’s Broadway transfer.

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  • Jay says:

    In an ideal world location (west of or east of Broadway) shouldn’t matter. If you have a good show that people want to see, they’ll go.

    It would have been interesting to see what would have happened to Mamma Mia had it moved east to the Cort, Lyceum or Belasco – all Shubert Theatres and all who have housed musicals in recent memory – instead of to the Broadhurst, a fairly in-demand theatre.

  • Matt Kidd says:

    Doesn’t your math here have more to do with theaters with long-running hit shows than theaters most popular with producers? The alternate might be better reflected by looking at how many shows in the same period have been in the house and what their avg run time was (to see if it is a house of flops).

  • Jeffrey says:

    Only one flaw in the research: the Longacre is west of Broadway.

    • Bert Silverberg says:

      The Longacre is hampered by having a second balcony, which producers strongly wish to avoid. The Shubert, of course, has a second balcony as well (saw “Matilda” from there this week, but the sightlines from there are good.

  • Kevin Lambert says:

    I would also rather see the data for a shorter period of time. Say AFTER 1988 when Phantom took over the MAJESTIC permanently.

  • Noemi de la Puente says:

    The Belasco is reputedly haunted.

    • Paul L says:

      Yeah, David & Lenore still hang out in that office at the top rear of the theater. Unless, of course, they were entertaining at the house David bought for Lenore on 75th St. between B’way & West End Ave.(South Side of the street, floor through Ballroom, I’m told.)…. Best

  • Don Rumgay Jr says:

    Think this says more about the shows that have been in these theaters rather than their location. I wonder what the percentage for The Nederlander would be if you took RENT and Newsies out of the stats…As for The Belasco, tho haunted it may be, it is a beautiful old theater and one of my favorites.

  • Scott says:

    It probably has more to do that those on the bottom traditionally house PLAYS and not musicals.

    The Music Box will certainly improve its occupancy rating now that Pippin is there.

    And didnt you (Ken) have a MEGAHIT in one of those non-favored theatres?!?!


    But it was a special/limited engagement event.

    The Gershwin/Uris was a flop space UNTIL Wicked.

    It’s all about the “product”–not the “packaging.”

  • Robert Mansell says:

    I see that ‘Circle in the Square’ is way down the list – so perhaps ‘Godspell’ didn’t do so badly all considering?!

  • Zanne Hall says:

    I have a feeling that the top ones came in top primarily because they book the most musicals.

  • Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning
    this post plus the rest of the site is very good.

  • Trey Jiminez says:

    the best theater is the one at La Colina In Ms Salehs Class

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