Broadway Grosses Analysis: Discount Tickets Keep Attendance High as Box Offices Battle Winter Lows | Playbill

Grosses Broadway Grosses Analysis: Discount Tickets Keep Attendance High as Box Offices Battle Winter Lows

This week's numbers show the power of programs like Broadway Week, which offers half-off tickets to most shows on the Main Stem.

Graphic by Vi Dang

Winter, unfortunately, is a slow time for Broadway, with tourism in a lull following the December holidays and even local New Yorkers opting to stay in by the fire as temperatures drop. This seems to have played out last week on Broadway, with grosses falling overall by nearly 15%. It doesn't help that the Main Stem lost a show (Shucked) and a pair of ticket-selling stars (Sweeney Todd's Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford), so the wintry season might not be completely to blame.

And yet attendance remained fairly strong, dropping by just a little over 6%. The 25 currently-running shows played to 86% full (cumulatively) houses last week, which likely indicates that Broadway's schemes to make the best of the slow season do, in fact, work. Chief among those is Broadway Week, a discount program that offers buy one-get one tickets to almost every show on the Main Stem. The efficacy of that program becomes really stark looking at average ticket prices, which for all the Broadway shows cumulatively fell by more than $10 to $115 last week. In other words, butts are in seats—they're just not paying as much as they were the last few weeks. (Broadway Week goes through February 4, so take advantage of it while it lasts.)

Unsurprisingly, given it just lost its starry leading couple, Sweeney Todd took the most precipitous fall last week, bringing in more than $1 million less than the week previous. This opened up a spot on the usually predictable top five highest grossers, which included usual suspects The Lion KingHamiltonWicked, and Merrily We Roll Along—and Top 5 newcomer MJ The Musical. Well, almost newcomer. The jukebox biomusical is not exactly a stranger to the Top 5, though the amazing box-office performance of Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along have mostly kept it out of the top of the list in recent months.

Winter on Broadway is hard—both Harmony and How to Dance in Ohio announced closing dates in the last week—but clearly people are using that unfortunate reality as a chance to catch up on some Broadway shows for less. Don't feel bad taking advantage of those discounts. They help keep Broadway going in the lean months, and might just help prevent more closing announcements if we're lucky. And, don't worry—before too long the spring breakers will be here to usher in a fabulous spring and summer on Broadway.

Take a look at the full report here.

The $1 Million Club (shows that earned $1 million or more at the box office):

(9 of 25 currently running productions)

The 90s Club (shows that played to 90% or higher of their seats filled over the entire week):

(13 of 25 currently running productions)

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