For the first time in two years, the Broadway League publicly reported grosses for each show. Although the industry and the world have changed in the interim, one thing hasn’t: stars sell tickets.
The Music Man, with Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster at the Winter Garden Theatre, sold $3.5 million in the seven days ending on Sunday. The top seller on Broadway, its average ticket of $283 was $70 more than Lin-Manuel Miranda’s juggernaut, Hamilton. That pre-pandemic box office king is still a money machine nearly seven years after it opened on Broadway, grossing $2.3 million.
Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, which like Music Man was postponed from 2020, is also commanding top dollar, thanks to the drawing power of Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, Matthew Broderick. The Ambassador Theatre Group revival, running at ATG’s Hudson Theatre, sold $1.7 million, with an average ticket of $213. It grossed just $47,000 shy of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, although there’s no comparison. The Lyric, home of Harry Potter, is 66 percent larger than the Hudson, where Plaza Suite is scheduled to open on Monday night and play through June 26.
Other box office winners last week, when many families were on Spring Break: Six, the cheeky musical about the wives of Henry VIII, at $1.3 million; Moulin Rouge, the the 2021 Tony Award winner for best musical ($1.4 million); the nearly 20-year-old stalwart Wicked ($1.9 million) and MJ, the Michael Jackson musical ($1.3 million).
Paradise Square, which represents the Broadway producing comeback of Garth Drabinsky, who was convicted of defrauding shareholders of the now-defunct Livent company, sold just $355,000 in its first week of previews, with an average ticket of $47. Comps, however, pushed attendance at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre to 97 percent.
Broadway has been more or less open for nine months without reporting individual grosses. In late January, it began distributing the numbers to members, with a time lag, and the highlights were reported by Broadway News and The New York Times.
The League has broken with tradition and isn’t disclosing how productions fared relative to their gross potential. That statistic lost credibility as a barometer of commercial health as the gross potential of some shows fluctuated, sometimes week-to-week, due to “dynamic” ticket pricing that changes with demand — or lack thereof.
The new numbers show Broadway recovering, albeit gradually, from the pandemic. It sold nearly $27 million from 22 shows. The same week in 2019, Broadway grossed $34 million from 35 productions.