Broadway sold $1.37 billion worth of tickets in the 2015-16 season, the third record year in a row, according to figures released by the Broadway League May 23. It was the best attended and highest-grossing season in recorded Broadway history.
That's 0.6 higher than last season’s record pace, and while an important chunk of that was due to the supernova hit Hamilton, newcomers Shuffle Along, Waitress and School of Rock sold at or near the $1 million/week level, as did long-running hits including The Lion King and Wicked.
The 2015-2016 Broadway season concluded with attendance up 1.6 percent to 13,317,980. Playing weeks increased 1.4 percent, from 1,626 to 1,648.
“The upward trend in audience growth continues for the third year in a row, and it’s no surprise,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “With the diversity of shows on stage, we are giving theatregoers what they want. The variety of musicals and plays— revivals and new shows – reiterates that there is something playing for everyone. From fighting duels to baking pies, from blood-curdling thrillers to fables of everlasting life, this has been a truly extraordinary season on Broadway and the talent is exhilarating. This season’s stories have been enhanced on stage with dancing the conga, playing the fiddle, banjo picking, tapping, rapping and verse. Whether seeing stories about the human experience or happily being entertained, there is nothing in the world like live theatre and I’m thrilled that audiences agree.”
There was one sign of softening business, however. The average ticket price took a rare downturn, falling from $104.18 to $103.11, which also represents a decrease for the first time in recorded history.
As in indication of how hard it is for shows to recoup their investments, only five of the season's 39 productions have paid off their investments as of today, though more are expected to do so in the months to come. Shows that ended the season in the black included four small-cast, limited-run, star-driven shows: An Act of God, David Javerbaum's comedy that starred Jim Parsons (will be revived this June with Sean Hayes); David Mamet's China Doll, that starred Al Pacino; and two magic shows, Penn & Teller on Broadway and The Illusionists.
The only large-scale, open-ended Broadway production believed to have ended this season in the black will be no surprise: Hamilton.