What we’re NOT telling you about Thanksgiving’s Broadway grosses.

We’ve got a funny way of looking at things.

If you read any of the articles on last week’s Broadway grosses in the “trades” then you probably saw headlines screaming about “soaring” increases with double digit % gains and some shows adding three quarters of a million dollars to their numbers.

Everything’s rosy, right?

Then why, when I was in the thick of it last week, did it not feel so flowery?  More on that in a minute, but first let’s talk about all the stories about how awesome we did.

You see, Broadway has this strange way of reporting our numbers.  We look at a week’s grosses, and compare them to the week before’s grosses . . . regardless of what the week was.  And in this case, the week before Thanksgiving, just happened to be a crap week.  So ooohhhh, look at the massive gains . . . compared to a week that sucked.  And, it works the other way too.  The “papers” will report ridiculous declines in our grosses the week after New Year’s, or the week after Labor Day.  It’ll be all doom and gloom and the sky is falling . . . when of course the grosses will take a tumble.  That’s what happens every single year.

Comparing a week to the previous week gives us no indication of how we’re really doing as we race to beat our season’s gross and attendance records.  The comparison is too dependent on what happened in the prior week.  If that week was crappy, then we’ll post super gains.  If that week was awesome, we’ll look like losers.  That’s like saying, “Hey, I just dropped my golf handicap by 10 strokes!”  Yes, that’s good.  But if you’re a 30 handicapper, you’re still not a good golfer.  Whereas someone saying, “I just dropped my golf handicap by 2 strokes,” who started out as a 8 and is now a 6, is on their way to becoming the next Tiger Woods.

In other words, it’s all relative.

What we need to do is compare our grosses to where we were in the same week one year prior.  (And then, if we really got fancy, we’d adjust it for inflation.) Only this comparison gives us an accurate picture of where we are.  We need apples to apples.  Not apples to last week’s apples.  Just writing articles about huge increases or decreases doesn’t tell us anything useful.

That’s why in the grosses that I post on my blog every week, I’m going to start adding a +/- the same week in the previous year statistic.  This way you’ll know how we really did.  (And I think we’ll be the only Broadway gross reporter on the web showing that stat.)

So let’s go back to why my spidey sense was tingling about last week’s Turkey numbers.

Last week, the total combined gross for all Broadway shows was $33,851,352.  (See how those break down here.)

The same frame one year prior was $34,121,642.

Ahhh, ha.  So there’s why something didn’t feel so right.  We actually dropped almost 1% from last year.  See how all of a sudden a more accurate picture is presenting itself?

But wait, there’s more.  Because that still doesn’t explain my ooglie-wooglies.

Last season, there were 36 shows running during Thanksgiving.

This season, there were 38.

So fewer dollars, spread out over more shows.

While not a massive change, it’s certainly not a positive one, and certainly not something to write super-duper headlines about.

Make sure you subscribe to this blog to get the grosses emailed to you every Monday . . . with our exclusive year over year comparison.


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  • Brad says:

    If the data is available, you should also add the number of performances. I venture to say that some shows add extra performances during the holidays and it increases their weekly grosses.

  • Ken Wydro says:

    Actually, Thanksgiving week was was more disappointing than in total gross compared to last year. What was striking that the % of capacities were so low, 75% for Gentleman’s Guide, 74 % for View From B ridge, 63 % for Allegiance – also under $500K for the big holiday week, 7- % for KIng Charles, 77% for PARIS, 87% of Beautiful, 84% for Neverland, 48% for Hand To God, 77% for KInky Boots, 82% for Miserables, 60% for MISERY 85% for On Your Feet, 68% for Rotten, 59 % for Spring Awakening 81 % for CURIOUS, 60% for Sylvia. There will be a lot of room for new shows in the spring, few of which are really THAT compelling. Lots of room for improvement in the current Broadway fare.
    I thought the numbers would be a lot better for the holiday week. The sleeper this season is COLOR PURPLE which features an astounding performance by Cynthia Erivo and is holding its own $$$-wise during previews. That’s a good sign.

  • Shane says:

    That will work great for holidays that occur on the same day each year… but will still cause some interesting distortions for other holidays that don’t occur on the same calendar date each year but still have ramifications for Broadway Grosses. For example, Labor Day in 2015 was the start of week 16, but was the start of week 15 in 2014.

    But in the spirit of never letting perfect be the enemy of good… I appreciate the addition of the extra metrics.

  • Sue Cohen says:

    You need seasonal adjustment factors.

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