EXCLUSIVE: This season, every night is kids’ night on Broadway.
While theatergoers still pay up for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s historical hip-hop, Broadway’s fastest-growing onstage demographic are princesses, princes, witches and wizards. With the Harry Potter plays and Mean Girls early in previews and Frozen opening on Thursday, family-friendly sales are likely to stay elevated.
Broadway Journal hasn’t crunched the numbers for every season, so we can’t say that family show sales are at record levels — but industry veterans we spoke to said it seems that way.
Appealing to both adults and kids is the box office Holy Grail. Defining “kid-friendly” is subjective; for this story, among the shows on the boards, we include Aladdin, Anastasia, Frozen, Harry Potter, Mean Girls, School of Rock, Spongebob Squarepants, The Lion King, and Wicked.
(Mean Girls, based on the 2004 movie comedy written by Tina Fey, was a sellout in its first week. It grossed $1.3 million in seven previews, with a $154 average seat. The week’s grosses exclude Harry Potter, as its first previews were considered “special fan performances.”)
There’s a fine line between anomaly and trend in an industry that’s cyclical and relatively small. Nonetheless, with a hat tip to the Harper’s Index, the following is a snapshot of Broadway today:
Sales of family shows last week, as a percent of all Broadway sales: 33.
Sales of family shows as a percent of all Broadway sales for the same week last season: 25.
Percent of the Broadway audience under 25, according to the Broadway League’s 2016-17 demographic study: 24.6.
Percent of the Broadway audience 25 and under in 1991: 14.
Number of admissions by theatergoers 18 and under in 2016-17: 1.65 million.
Number of past years the Broadway League recorded more 18-and-under admissions: 0.
Wicked’s Broadway grosses since it opened in 2003: $1.186 billion.
The Lion King’s Broadway grosses since it opened in 1997 : $1.458 billion.
Fun Home‘s Broadway grosses during its 18-month run: $41.5 million
Number of new musicals with an original score not based on a movie last season: 5.
Number of new musicals — family friendly or not — with an original score and not based on a movie, scheduled for this season: 0.
Editor: Alice Scovell