Hit musicals are running longer and making more money than ever — which is illustrated by two fascinating interactive charts.
The Broadway season that ended on Sunday was strong but not stellar.
Overall attendance: up 4 percent to 13.8 million, according to the Broadway League. Grosses rose 17 percent, to $1.7 billion. The average price of a ticket for a musical gained 11 percent to $125.70 — thanks to strong demand for Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, The Lion King, Hello, Dolly! with Bette Midler and, increasingly, Mean Girls, which looks like a hit.
EXCLUSIVE: Don’t be shocked if Hamilton reports extra-huge holiday numbers. Tickets this week are going for a record $1,150.
With the increase, Hamilton is the first on Broadway to sell seats for four figures, before fees, that don’t benefit a charity or political campaign.
As of Sunday afternoon, a few $1,150 tickets were still available through December 30. (The show is dark on New Year’s Eve and Jan. 1.) They are the only ones remaining this year for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical about the founding fathers, besides those via resellers and a $10 lottery. The price is up 15 percent from last Christmas, when top tickets fetched a then-record $998. (Hello, Dolly! later matched $998 for the first row for some performances.) Shows typically raise prices for the holidays, when tourists pack the city.
CORRECTION: This story originally referred to a pro-N.E.A. tweet by Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State designate at the time. A Trump transition official later said the Twitter account was fake.
Hamilton, Next to Normal, War Horse and South Pacific have something in common besides acclaim and awards. They share a patron in the federal government.
The National Endowment for the Arts, which may face an existential threat from the new administration in Washington, has subsidized the development of many of the most praised shows on Broadway and off-Broadway. (See below for a list of nonprofits that have received notable NEA grants.)
The $998 seats are up 18 percent over the $849 tickets Hamilton introduced in early June — the previous record holder. When including Ticketmaster’s $18 service fee, the new ticket, at $1,016, is the first on Broadway to run four figures.
EXCLUSIVE: Hamilton, the Broadway blockbuster endorsed by the president and first lady, has repaid its investors.
Two people with direct knowledge of the musical’s finances confirmed that it recouped its $12.5 million capitalization. Normally, producers announce when a show breaks even, but Hamilton, “the hardest ticket to get on the planet,” as Michelle Obama put it, has little to prove. Since recouping it’s already begun distributing profits, according to one production source. Reached by phone Friday morning, Sam Rudy, a spokesman for the show said: “I’m not aware that we’ve recouped,” adding that he would check with the producers.
EXCLUSIVE: The Last Ship, a failure on Broadway, was a hit for the Public Theater .
In the fall of 2013, a year before the musical’s brief run at the Neil Simon Theatre, Sting played ten concerts of its songs at the downtown nonprofit, coinciding with the release of his album The Last Ship. According to the Public’s latest tax return, its benefit income after subtracting for direct expenses surged 60 percent to $3.2 million. That suggests a roughly million dollar gain in 2013-14 from the Sting engagement. (As in previous years, the Public also held a gala in Central Park.)
The Public paid $900,000 to Sting’s Steerpike Productions, according to the return. A theater spokeswoman said the star performed for free and the money covered rehearsal, performances, travel and lodging for his 14-piece band, including musical director Rob Mathes.
The concerts helped the Public increase net assets by 14 percent to $41.5 million — a preview of improving fortunes. The theater helped develop the play Eclipsed and the musicals Fun Home and Hamilton, all now on Broadway. Hamilton alone will likely yield many millions for the institution.