Thanks to ever-rising prices, 2017 ended on a frosty high note.
It was Broadway’s best-selling year, at $1.64 billion; its top-grossing week — $50.4 million; and the best week for a single show: Hamilton, natch, at $3.9 million, aided by record $1,150 seats.
Sales overall for 2017 were up 20 percent, according to data from the Broadway League, a trade association of producers and theater owners. The average ticket ascended 16 percent to $119.
Most shows saw a huge bump last week, as they raised prices for the holidays and in some cases presented nine performances instead of the customary eight. The average ticket was $164. Springsteen on Broadway was a holdout. The Boss left his top seat unchanged at $850, still grossing a mighty $2.4 million over five performances, with the average ticket going for $509. (Besides a daily lottery, the run, which ends on June 30, is sold out.)
The Broadway boom continued even though international tourism in the U.S. declined 4 percent through the third quarter, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Some in the travel industry have attributed the drop in part to President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda, which includes travel and immigration curbs and harsh rhetoric. Yet given the continued influx of domestic travelers, the city’s tourism office, NYC & Company, projected a modest increase in overall visitors in 2017.
Annual attendance rose 3.7 percent. The industry has no shortage of long-running musicals that continue packing them in, including Wicked ($3.3 million last week for nine performances), The Lion King ($3.1 million for eight shows), Aladdin ($2.4 million for eight shows) and Hamilton. It alone accounted for 9.6 percent of box office in 2017.
Yet given the year’s anomalies, the industry’s attendance gain was modest.
As the Broadway League defined 2017, it had 53 weeks, vs. 52 for 2016. The extra week adds almost 2 percent to the tally. And the Hudson Theatre reopened on Broadway in February after 49 years, giving the industry its 41st venue. To be sure, only 40 houses were in use, as the non-profit Second Stage Theater has been renovating the Hayes. Still, Broadway capacity was up by about 370 seats, or 1 percent.
The official season ends shortly before the Tony Awards, which are scheduled for June 10.