The Mel Brooks-Thomas Meehan musical comedy based on the smash film comedy by Brooks began previews at Broadway's Hilton Theatre Oct. 11. Variety estimated the first preview weekend took in around $857,000 for four performances Oct. 11-14.
Variety arrives at its estimate through "a combination of digging and number-crunching."
As previously reported, the show's producers, led by Robert F.X. Sillerman and Brooks, broke with Broadway tradition and decided they will not disclose their weekly box-office grosses and attendance figures.
"This is a private transaction," Sillerman told The New York Times. "…Consequently, I don't know if there's any — I'm quite sure there's not any — bona fide business reason to do it other than bragging rights."
Young Frankenstein officially opens Nov. 8 at the Hilton Theatre, one of the largest houses on Broadway. Susan Stroman, who turned Brooks' The Producers into gold, directs and choreographs. The trade paper Variety publishes a weekly chart that indicates the ups and downs of the box-office take for all shows on Broadway. The figures are provided by the League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc. The League is not estimating or including Young Frankenstein in its weekly tally.
Playbill.com also publishes the League numbers list, which indicates the following: the most recent week's gross, the gross previous to that, any change in that amount, the weekly attendance and its change from the previous week, performance count for the week, seating capacity of the theatre, percent of those seats filled that week, average paid admission and the top ticket price.
The League figures do not indicate weekly running costs of the productions, which would more clearly indicate the financial health of a production.
No law stipulates public disclosure of these figures, which indicate the health of a private business venture in a very public way. While Jersey Boys, Grease and Wicked producers probably revel in the weekly report of what musical is playing to 100 percent (or more) capacity, the producers of Deuce (which closed its limited run in recent weeks) might have wished the news of 49.55 percent of capacity for that play was buried deeper in the trades.
According to The New York Times, the reporting of grosses is a tradition that started in Variety at least as far back as the Depression.