EXCLUSIVE: The Frozen fractals appear to be falling into place for Disney.
Reviews aren’t out until the March 22 opening of Disney Theatrical Productions’ adaptation of the 2013 blockbuster animated film, but it has already raised prices for performances next year.
According to a Disney group sales memo dated Feb. 13, the top non-holiday ticket at the St. James Theatre jumps from $277.50 in previews to $327.50 this August to $352.50 in March 2019. Prices are the same for groups and individuals, before fees.
The price increase is indicative of strong demand. Last week, Frozen was the fifth-highest-grossing Broadway musical, at $1.5 million, after Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, The Lion King and Wicked. Another bullish sign: Disney is giving group sales agents less incentive to sell the show, as it isn’t paying their customary 10 percent commission for performances after July 1.
A Disney spokesman declined to comment for this story.
With a number of new and long-running Broadway shows appealing to kids, Frozen enters a crowded market. The highly-anticipated Harry Potter plays, which begin previews on Friday, are selling into March 2019. More typical is Mean Girls, which began previews on Monday and currently selling through September 2018.
Disney has expertise in setting prices based on past sales, particularly with 1997’s Lion King. The average ticket for the Julie Taymor musical has risen every year for the past decade. Last year, it was the second-highest-grossing Broadway musical, after Hamilton.
The Frozen memo shows how dynamic “dynamic pricing” has become. Disney divides the St. James into 10 sections, with eight different prices. (The front balcony and rear mezzanine, for example, usually cost the same.) Each month, the company employs three to five pricing scales, depending on the day and whether it’s a matinée or evening performance. The scales can change month to month.
Among the trends: weekends at Frozen tend to be costlier than weekdays, and matinées more expensive than evenings, presumably due to the bedtimes of younger fans. (The exception is the month of December, when matinées are cheaper, as tourists generally prefer to see the sights and shop during the day.) Tickets are most plentiful and affordable from late August to early November — traditionally a slower period on Broadway.
The most expensive Frozen ticket is currently $377.50, for the second half of November through December. Most tickets remaining for previews are premium-priced, but considerably cheaper than during the holidays.
The least pricey seats, in the balcony, are $82.50 or $99.50 until Nov. 15, when all tickets cost at least $99.50. Disney offers an undisclosed number of $30 lottery tickets.
While it’s selling tickets through 2018, Disney is offering the first 10 weeks of 2019 to New York Times subscribers. A direct mail flyer to Times readers quotes critic Jesse Green calling the show “awesome,” pulling from his review of the pre-Broadway Denver tryout. The review was slightly more nuanced, with Green writing: “And what story were they telling in this sometimes charming, sometimes awesome, sometimes lumbering adaptation?”
With a family of four paying upwards of $400 for nosebleed seats, or much more downstairs, some may wait for Broadway reviews before buying. Yet given the popularity of the film and the song Let It Go, many fans don’t care what critics are going to say. Mixed reviews never bothered them anyway.
Editor: Alice Scovell