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Broadway ticket sales hit by January doldrums, closings

By Allison Reitz

Ticket sales on Broadway dropped 36 percent last week, as New York's legitimate theatre district entered its traditional January doldrums.

Through the week ending January 8, sales dropped to a cumulative $23.95 million for 31 productions from the previous week's holiday high of $37.65 million for 34 productions. With a sparser tourist population to draw from, attendance also fell 22 percent to 250,021.

The overall decline was partially a result of fewer running productions, since four shows closed January 1. And the slate of shows continues to shrink, as two more tuners closed their doors for good on January 8.

The long-running "Billy Elliot" raked in nearly $1.12 million from audiences saying their farewells before the final performance on Sunday. But the critically acclaimed, commercially struggling "Lysistrata Jones" didn't generate any similar last-minute windfall from its early shuttering. Ticket sales dropped 22 percent to $254,776 in the musical comedy's final week.

Including the now-closed "Elliot," eight shows pulled in over $1 million through January 8. Though sales were down compared to the holiday rush, grosses were still impressively high among the top-earners. "The Lion King" led the pack at $1.87 million, followed by "Wicked" at $1.85 million. Down $1.2 million from its Broadway-record week, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" finished in third at $1.72 million.

The Broadway cumulative is expected to continue its downturn through the month. Despite January's reputation as a Main Stem show-killer, several new shows are braving the turbulence by either opening or entering previews.

The month's strongest contender is the musical adaptation of "Porgy and Bess," which opens tonight, January 11. Last week, its ticket sales actually increased to $862,527, with an average paid admission of $96.44 and audiences at 83 percent capacity. The tuner so far has grossed more than $2.64 million in four weeks of previews.

"The Road to Mecca," which opens next week on January 17, has had a more difficult time. Through its past four weeks of previews, the show grossed only $452,647 total. Moreover, ticket sales through January 8 were just $154,359 — less than a quarter of its $640,240 potential.

Meanwhile, "Wit" began previews January 5 and will have to prove itself without the benefit of holiday audiences. During its five initial previews, the Cynthia Nixon-led drama grossed $121,813.

All data provided by The Broadway League.

Broadway Gross Ticket Sales
Week Ending January 8, 2012

Production
(Theatre)
Weekly Gross Total Atten. Prev. Perf. Total Capacity Avg. Ticket Price Atten. %
An Evening…Patinkin
(Barrymore)
$539,026 5,272 0 7 1,058 $102.24 71.2%
Anything Goes
(Sondheim)
$701,643 7,603 0 8 1,026 $92.29 92.6%
Billy Elliot
(Imperial)
$1,118,453 11,366 0 8 1,421 $98.40 100.0%
Chicago
(Ambassador)
$638,932 7,046 0 8 1,080 $90.68 81.6%
Chinglish
(Longacre)
$197,148 2,940 0 8 1,077 $67.06 34.1%
Follies
(Marquis)
$748,444 8,820 0 8 1,612 $84.86 68.4%
Godspell
(Circle in Square)
$348,667 4,643 0 8 735 $75.10 79.0%
How to Succeed...
(Hirschfeld)
$1,386,065 11,373 0 8 1,424 $121.87 99.8%
Jersey Boys
(August Wilson)
$1,053,655 9,451 0 8 1,228 $111.49 96.2%
Lysistrata Jones
(Kerr)
$254,776 5,238 0 8 945 $48.64 69.3%
Mamma Mia!
(Winter Garden)
$759,484 8,883 0 8 1,498 $85.50 74.1%
Mary Poppins
(New Amsterdam)
$1,046,746 12,806 0 8 1,797 $81.74 89.1%
Memphis
(Shubert)
$637,107 9,300 0 8 1,470 $68.51 79.1%
On a Clear Day...
(St. James)
$584,711 7,334 0 8 1,367 $79.73 67.1%
Other Desert Cities
(Booth)
$536,244 5,348 0 8 761 $100.27 87.8%
Porgy and Bess
(Rodgers)
$862,527 8,944 8 0 1,349 $96.44 82.9%
Priscilla...Desert
(Palace)
$725,979 9,645 0 8 1,689 $75.27 71.4%
Relatively Speaking
(Atkinson)
$341,814 6,074 0 8 1,076 $56.27 70.6%
Rock of Ages
(Hayes)
$442,832 4,604 0 8 583 $96.18 98.7%
Seminar
(Golden)
$484,127 5,975 0 8 804 $81.03 92.9%
Sister Act
(Broadway)
$673,539 9,456 0 8 1,755 $71.23 67.4%
Spider-Man...Dark
(Foxwoods)
$1,721,734 15,203 0 8 1,930 $113.25 98.5%
Stick Fly
(Cort)
$251,712 4,662 0 7 1,079 $53.99 61.7%
The Book of Mormon
(O'Neill)
$1,428,663 8,752 0 8 1,066 $163.24 102.6%
The Lion King
(Minskoff)
$1,872,430 13,058 0 8 1,677 $143.39 97.3%
The Mountaintop
(Jacobs)
$555,240 6,577 0 8 1,065 $84.42 77.2%
The Phantom of the Opera
(Majestic)
$913,022 11,152 0 8 1,605 $81.87 86.9%
The Road to Mecca
(American Airlines)
$154,359 3,221 8 0 727 $47.92 55.4%
War Horse
(Beaumont)
$999,530 8,552 0 8 1,069 $116.88 100.0%
Wicked
(Gershwin)
$1,850,216 14,197 0 8 1,809 $130.32 98.1%
Wit
(Friedman)
$121,813 2,526 5 0 650 $48.22 77.7%

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