Broadway Box-Office Analysis, Oct. 26-Nov. 2: Hugh Jackman's River Runneth Over and The Last Ship's Numbers Sink

News   Broadway Box-Office Analysis, Oct. 26-Nov. 2: Hugh Jackman's River Runneth Over and The Last Ship's Numbers Sink
Playbill's new weekly feature examines the box-office trends of the past week.

Broadway gained two shows this past week — The River and Side Show — but lost ground at the box office. Overall gross was down more than $2 million to $23,464,671. Attendance, too, slid by about 15,000 ticketbuyers. To the surprise of no one, The River got off to a dynamic start, proving that star Hugh Jackman is still a charmer at the ticket window. The three previews at Circle in the Square played to capacity-plus crowds and took in 106% of the box-office potential. The average ticket price was $161.01. Expect this to be this fall's Betrayal, the Daniel Craig revival that was sold out during its entire run last season.

The River compared favorably to the other starry plays on the block: the Albee revival of A Delicate Balance (average ticket price of $132.50) and It's Only a Play ($158.01). Both play at or near capacity. (It's Only a Play came in at 99%, the first time it fell below capacity during its run.)

Otherwise, the atmosphere wasn't particularly robust across Broadway last week. Most shows lost monies and theatregoers. The new production of the circus musical Side Show couldn't begin to approach Jackman's numbers. Over six previews, it ran to houses that were 73% full and collected 40% of possible ducats at the box office.

Another musical revival with no star names, On the Town, was also struggling to find an audience. The Bernstein perennial played to 57% capacity and raked in a paltry 38% of its potential gross. That marked a significant drop from last week.

The Sting musical The Last Ship, which opened last week, also saw its fortunes fall. Attendance was down by nearly a third at the Neil Simon, and capacity stood at 59%. Not a good sign for a new musical just getting started. Life was better at the American Airlines, where The Real Thing opened. Houses were 97% full and box-office gross came in 78%. This Is Our Youth fell below the 50% point, capacity-wise. Gross was 37% of the possible take.

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