ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Thanksgiving

Ask   ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Thanksgiving
A look at the past few years' worth of box-office grosses for Thanksgiving weekend — and what Broadway will be losing this season due to the ongoing strike.


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Question: The Broadway stagehands strike continues this Thanksgiving week, leaving only nine shows running on Broadway. How important is Thanksgiving week to the Broadway economy, and how much will Broadway be losing? Answer: The tourist crowd — and perhaps even those Broadway performances at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade — tend to give Broadway a big boost during Thanksgiving. Here are the Thanksgiving week figures from the last few years (as recorded by the League of American Theatres and Producers): 2006: $23.3 million
Average week that season: $18.0 million
Change: +29 percent

2005: $20.8 million
Average week: $16.6 million
Change: +25 percent

2004: $17.4 million
Average week: $14.8 million
Change: +18 percent

2003: $18.9 million
Average week: $14.5 million
Change: +30 percent

2002: $18.6 million
Average week: $13.9 million
Change: +34 percent

As one can see, Thanksgiving is always well above average. In 2003-04, for instance, it was the third-biggest week of the entire season, behind Christmas and New Year's. In 2004-05 it was the ninth-biggest week.

So how much is Broadway losing? Variety estimated last week's strike-week total at $4.6 million (Young Frankenstein doesn't report grosses, so Variety estimated its total at $1.7 million). Even with, say, a 25 percent bump to $5.75 million over Thanksgiving, plus another half a million for Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which is back on the boards this weekend, boosting our hypothetical total to $6.25 million, that would still be around $17 million below last year's Thanksgiving weekend. And — given inflation, and the fact that in a strike-free world there'd be a couple extra shows on the boards this year — it's about $20 million below this year's potential.

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