Curtain up on record Broadway ticket sales

By Philip Boroff

The variety of shows on Broadway has led to a record $1.3 billion in revenue. Photo / Grant Bradley
The variety of shows on Broadway has led to a record $1.3 billion in revenue. Photo / Grant Bradley

Broadway sold a record US$1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) worth of tickets in the past 12 months, buoyed by Wicked, The Book of Mormon and other hits that charge US$300 and up for top seats.

Ticket revenue was up 5.9 per cent from a year ago, said the Broadway League, a trade association of producers and theatre owners.

The top sellers over the past week, which included the three-day Memorial Day weekend, were Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (US$1.3 million), Book of Mormon (US$1.2 million), The Lion King (US$1.6 million) and Wicked (US$1.7 million).

All told, 42 shows opened during the season, the second highest total in at least 24 years.

"We had such a variety of product," said Stephanie Lee, president of ticket agency Group Sales Box Office.

"So many shows opened, which is appealing to us because we have a lot to talk about."

Attendance was 12.5 million, up 5.4 per cent from a year earlier.

Comparing revenue and attendance with previous seasons is inexact because every seven years the Broadway season is 53 weeks, instead of 52. The 2010-2011 season was 53 weeks.

The average ticket price, US$86.21 in 2010-2011, was up 43c from US$85.78 last season.

Hits charge more, as producers adjust prices based on demand.

The Broadway League's season total excludes markups that online markets and ticket brokers charge.

Despite the record revenue, just one opening from last year's northern spring, the Beatles tribute Rain, is still running on Broadway.

Among new musicals this year, Mormon was the only one to enjoy uniformly strong reviews.

The season's two musical revivals, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Anything Goes, have played to full houses.

- Bloomberg

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