Broadway Box Office Bounces Back a Bit as Industry Waits and Hopes

News   Broadway Box Office Bounces Back a Bit as Industry Waits and Hopes Broadway box office plunged some 65 percent to $3,466,038 the shortened performance week of Sept. 11-16 — the week of the terrorist attacks on New York City. Though theatregoers remained skittish about returning to the theatre, box office receipts did rise to $7,759,768 the following week the assaults—a leap of $2.5 million.

Broadway box office plunged some 65 percent to $3,466,038 the shortened performance week of Sept. 11-16 — the week of the terrorist attacks on New York City. Though theatregoers remained skittish about returning to the theatre, box office receipts did rise to $7,759,768 the following week the assaults—a leap of $2.5 million.

If Sept. 11-16 had been a regular eight-show week, The League of American Theatres and Producers estimated the take would have been around $5.2 million, reflecting a natural falloff of summer business. The box office plunged about 65 percent Sept. 11-16.

According to figures from The League, the box office Sept. 17-23 is down $1,843,684 from the last regular full week of business, Sept. 3-9. The week ending Sept. 9, the box office totaled $9,603,452.

Producers, press agents, theatre owners, casts and crews rallied in recent days to figure out ways the bring people back to the theatre and end what is arguably the greatest threat in the history of the industry.

Industry observers, including those at the League, said that comparing and contrasting the Sept. 11 grosses to other weekly grosses is confusing and unfair, considering the abnormal circumstances. Most productions the week of the attack offered five performances due to canceled shows Sept. 11 and 12 (two evenings and a matinee), although some productions with unusual performance schedules (Monday night shows, for example) were able to present seven shows (Chicago and Rent, for example). The week of Sept. 17-23, the major tourist-fed shows Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera climbed some of the way toward recovery, while not yet reached pre-Sept. 11 levels. Les Miz grossed $340,173 the "normal" week ending Sept. 9, and plummeted to $94,515 the week of the attack. It recovered to $167,197 the week ending Sept. 23. The show has potential weekly gross of $482,301.

Phantom's potential gross is $563,938. The week of the attack it took in $185,490 compared to the previous week's $489,502. By the week ending Sept. 23 it made up a third of its lost ground, rising to $273,656.

The week of Sept. 17, producer Cameron Mackintosh took action along with producers of three other shows and asked for union concessions during the time of financial crisis. By Sept. 27, the casts, crews, writers and producers of seven shows — Kiss Me, Kate, Rent, The Music Man, The Full Monty, Rent, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miz — agreed to pay cuts for four weeks, hoping to last until theatregoers feel confident about coming to Broadway again.

— By Kenneth Jones
—By Robert Simonson