What was the highest grossing Broadway show in 2013? Spoiler alert!

Got a guess?

What Broadway show grossed the most dollars (not necessarily bodies, right?) over the past 52 weeks?

Ready for the answer?  Don’t scroll down until you’ve got one.

The answer is . . . .

(scroll now)

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Not Mormon.  Not Kinky Boots.  And not even Wicked.

The highest grossing Broadway show of 2013 was . . . The Lion King.

The King pulled in a whopping $96,983,840 in just one year.  Second up was Wicked with $95,278,197.

The fact that The Lion King is at the top of the charts isn’t all that surprising (click here to read why).

But what is surprising is that the show is 16 years old!  It’s the third oldest show on Broadway . . . Phantom, Chicago and then Lion King . . . yet its old age hasn’t diminished its dollar-making power.  (I think Broadway years are like dog years – 1 year is equivalent to 7 human years.)

Shows used to follow a natural decline, like most products that don’t change and just age.  The only way to get a mid-cycle spike was to recast with some major celeb, or, if a movie came out within your Broadway reign.

But Lion King hasn’t cast any celebs.  And the movie came out a long, long time ago.  And 2nd place Wicked hasn’t done the celeb thing either, and their movie has yet to go into production (oh man, can you imagine the Broadway grosses when that sucker comes out?!?).

All this proves the ol’ axiom, that the secret to a long running, super high grossing show is to make your show the star.


(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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  • George Rady says:

    Not to beat a dead horsey – but no surprise (though I did not guess it) – but You don’t want to bet against or dismiss what Disney is doing for Broadway!

    More that anything else – this show is not just kid friendly – but it glorifies in traditional family values that parents see as worth the cost of a very expensive ticket – even if they are not a fan of “musicals” or “Broadway” and it goes back to my earlier point about “Kinky Boots” at the Macy’s Parade… parents don’t want to come to NYC and spend major $$$ and then have to explain why a man dressing like a woman is vital to our Learning Process… even “Wicked” requires some explaining why the “Good Witch” bad and the “Bad Witch” is good and… oh bother! (And let’s not even try to dissect “Matilda!”)

    Sure there is room for EVERYTHING!

    But “Lion King” and Disney are the Bread and Butter and – risk – in this business is not knowning your – potential – audience….

    On a completely On a completely irrelevant (but Disney) note – IF You are lover of Film Scores – don’t let the Box Bombing of “Long Ranger” dissuade you from getting the CD! One of the most amazing re-realizations of Rossini’s Classic along with several other tributes to the classical Old West scores done by the great composers from Ennio Morricone to Elmer Bernstein to Dimitri Tiomkin… it’s like a musical puzzle (for those who like their music a la carte!

    I still wonder why Western (even “Paint Yer Wagon” have never really been done well on Broadway when the stories and music and Americana are just so blantantly obvious???


  • George Rady says:

    btw – let’s not gloss over the fact that Disney owns all of its own material and even most the work is done “for hire” so that the performance “royalties” are little more than an account trick! Much easier to Net when You don’t have to keep cutting checks to those darn “Creators” (as I try to calculate the cost of doing “Oliver” X number of times and konwing that I have NO exclusive right to produce within the area…

    I truly appreciate how One can only REALLY make money when they are complete control of the “rights” to the work! ALL the rights!


  • Sweetypie says:

    …and make your show something the whole family can joyfully attend! Whole families mean blocks of tickets, and if based on a book or movie children love, that whole family may be repeat customers for a family tradition 🙂

  • Ken, careful, your blog is turning into a Disney homage! Don’t meant to play devil’s advocate, can never argue with success. I guess there are high hopes for “Aladdin” but remember, they don’t always hit a home run. Yes, someone said the only business model is a profitable one, but thank goodness there is still space, albeit a small one, for cutting edge, daring works. That audience is shrinking, but remains a vital, worthy one. Let us praise the risk takers, and you know who you are. High Art does not lie in the Disney culture…cannot quite call them movers and shakers. Of course, bravo for their successful formula, the tried and true…. as long as there is still room in a cutting edge city like NYC for those who break the mold.

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