The League of American Theatres and Producers remains optimistic about Broadway grosses and attendance figures even though the normally strong week between Christmas and New Year did not pan out exactly as hoped.
During the 1998-99 season, Broadway grossed roughly $17 million in the week immediately after Christmas. This year, the gross for the same week is expected to be down to about $15 million. Attendance was also slightly off, with 245,000 attending Broadway shows in the week following Christmas 1999, as opposed to 254,000 for the same period in 1998. Exact figures from the League are expected in the next day or so.
Despite these mildly disappointing figures, the League said there was still cause to rejoice. The week ending Jan. 2, 2000 was still the "best week so far this season." Another highlight, according to the League, was the single best day of tickets sales recorded at the new Times Square Visitors Center. Located across from the Theatre Development Fund's (TDF) TKTS booth at 47th Street, the League center sold 350 tickets, which was described as "a lot" by one source.
If some theatre patrons considered avoiding the Times Square 2000 gala preparations and celebration, others did not. The TDF reported a stronger than normal week at the TKTS booth for the period immediately following Christmas.
"It was a very strong week, even though we don't have the exact figures yet," said TDF executive director Jack Goldstein. "The week after Christmas is usually a very strong week for the box office, while the week just before Christmas is usually not." Goldstein said that last week's matinee day, Dec. 29, was as busy as he'd ever seen the TKTS booth operating. Due to limited space in connection with Times Square 2000 gala preparations, police and Times Square Business Improvement District staffers had to assist with crowd control on the ticket line. Higher ticket prices at some shows may have offset the dip in attendance, thus helping to narrow the gap between last season's grosses for the post holiday week and this season's. In recent weeks, ticket prices at Fosse, Les Miserable, The Lion King and The Price were all raised to as much as $85 or $90.
-- By Murdoch McBride