ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Summer Box Office

News   ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Summer Box Office A look at the summer box-office take on Broadway.
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Ask Playbill.com is a weekly Playbill.com column that answers questions about theatre, generated by readers and Playbill.com staff, every Thursday. To ask a question, email AskPlaybill@Playbill.com. Please specify how you would like your name displayed and please include the city in which you live.

This week's question comes from the Playbill.com staff.

Question: During the summer, audiences flood the movie box office but keep the television turned off. So what happens to Broadway shows?

Answer: Playbill.com crunched the numbers and compiled a list of figures showing how well the past few summers have stacked up against the rest of the year. The figures are derived from the League of American Theatres and Producers' database of Broadway box-office information, and the summer is defined as the day after the Tony Awards, to the Sunday of Labor Day weekend (sometimes 12 weeks, sometimes 13 weeks). On each line, the bigger of the two figures is in bold. 2006

Average number of shows running:
Summer: 25.2; Rest of year: 29.1

Average gross per week:
Summer: $16,823,815; Rest of year: $17,605,737

2005

Average number of shows running:
Summer: 28.8; Rest of year: 29.3

Average weekly gross:
Summer: $16,007,940; Rest of year: $15,827,499

2004

Average number of shows running:
Summer: 27.8; Rest of year: 28.0

Average weekly gross:
Summer: $14,707,072; Rest of year: $14,302,296

2003

Average number of shows running:
Summer: 23.7; Rest of year: 29.4

Average weekly gross:
Summer: $13,778,588; Rest of year $14,002,984

So when it comes to summer, is Broadway more like movies or more like television? It seems to be right in between. Over the last few years, in terms of average weekly gross, there hasn't been much difference between the summer and the rest of the year.

A trend that does emerge, however, is that fewer shows run during the summer. Therefore, the shows that survive the annual post-Tonys massacre tend to luck out, as the summer has fewer shows splitting a similar-size pot. The difference between the number of shows running during summer and the number running during the rest of the year was most pronounced in 2003 and 2006. At first glance, 2007 seems like it might end up like those years, as five shows have closed in June and at least six will close in July.

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