Grosses Wrap-Up: Where Was Post-Tonys Bump?
The week following the Tony Awards is usually one of Broadway’s most anticipated when it comes to box office performance. Even in this far-from-predictable Broadway season, attendance across the district’s 41 theaters is still largely predicated from a fairly straightforward set of inputs:
- How strong is New York City tourism?
- How star-powered are the shows?
- Do weather events impact travel into the theatre district?
- How did the show do last week?
- Is there a new variant?
- Does anyone in the cast have COVID? (ok, this one is a little hard to anticipate)
The Tony Awards add an additional variable into the mix for this third week of June; this week, we expect a spike in volatility and variance. Ticket prices and show capacities fluctuate wildly based on whether or not shows achieved a post-Tonys bump, a halo effect in grosses based on whether the Tony Awards wowed TV audiences. After all, price is nothing but the convergence of supply and demand, and last time I checked, the aggregate supply of tickets is changing slower than the marquee at the Majestic.
Curiously, compared to the week prior to the Tonys, grosses for the week ending 6/19 actually decreased 7%. Ticket prices dropped 3%. Capacities fell 3%. What happened?
Drivers of Decline
Well, a lot happened, but in three words: Hugh tested positive. The most drastic driver of decline, by far, Hugh Jackman called out of The Music Man due to COVID-19. Despite the raucous (and we mean raucous) love felt for Max Clayton’s stepping in as Professor Hill, the Winter Garden cancellation hotline was likely ringing off the hook, which could explain the $1.6M drop in Music Man grosses versus the week before.
There were also a couple of closures: Girl From the North Country closed following a full week, Hangmen closed one performance short of a full week’s slate, and Six had only seven performances.
So who saw the biggest bump from the 75th anniversary Tony Awards?
- For The Love of Money: That mantle is claimed by MJ, as Myles Frost must have made quite an impression between securing his Best Leading Actor in a Musical win and performance of “Smooth Criminal”. The jukebox musical gained $200k over the prior week, selling out almost every seat of its eight performances, and at an average ticket price that brings it into the top five in all of Broadway, behind only Hamilton, The Music Man, Plaza Suite, and Six.
- Second Wave?: Perhaps predictably, audiences “wanna knooooow what’s going on in New York”, as A Strange Loop benefitted from its claiming the night’s Best Musical grand prize, jumping $170k in grosses. ASL almost sold out at the Lyceum, one of Broadway’s most intimate houses. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Michael R. Jackson’s show achieve this stat… periodically.
- Tomorrow’s Never Guaranteed: Fans of Best Leading Actress in a Musical recipient Joaquina Kalukango will be pleased to see that more audiences were witnessing the many joys unfolding on stage within Paradise Square. Likely not unrelated to Kalukango bringing the Radio City Music Hall crowd to its feet twice in a span of around thirty minutes, Paradise was the third largest beneficiary of the Tony Awards. It increased its weekly sales by just about $125k, taking the bronze medal of ‘bumps’, and yet only (even still) plays to Broadway’s fifth emptiest capacity (65%).
- Tick Tock: And despite coming out of the Tonys with the most trophies overall, Company posted a closing notice on Tuesday evening, indicating that its post-Tonys bump of $87k over the prior week ($727k weekly total, Broadway’s tenth lowest last week) was simply not enough for producer Chris Harper to justify continuing its run past this summer (we’re oh so sorry, but of course oh so grateful). But fear not, Broadway will “give us more to see” this summer with another Sondheim kicking off previews at the St. James this week (Into the Woods), with additional titles rumored for later this season.
In light of healthy grosses at the top, most shows in the bottom ten have already announced their upcoming closings:
- The Minutes (July 24)
- American Buffalo (July 10)
- POTUS (August 14)
- Come From Away (October 2)
- Dear Evan Hansen (September 18)
- Company (July 31)
- Tina (August 14)
Of the bottom 12 grossing shows, only Paradise Square, Chicago, Mr. Saturday Night have yet to announce their final Broadway performances.
Broadway this summer will undergo a slew of change, with old sets struck down and new ones loaded in. With the new baselines established by the Tonys and a new variable thrown into the mix this week with the Broadway League enacting mask-optional policies for the month of July, we’ll all be keeping our eyes on how audience trends might evolve.