Special Reports

Broadway Grosses: Filling the House

While Book of Mormon, Motown, and Lucky Guy are regularly playing to standing room crowds, there are plenty of empty seats (and deals to be had) on Broadway.

The percentage of the seats filled for each Broadway show on the week ending April 14.
The percentage of the seats filled for each Broadway show on the week ending April 14.
© Kelley L. Smith

The spring season is in full swing as two musical behemoths, Matilda and Motown, officially opened on Broadway. Both are making a strong showing at the box office, with Matilda pulling in $745,923 last week and filling 98.7% of the house and Motown grossing $959,091 while filling 103.6% of the house (the extra 3.6% are standing room). Yet this week also saw the untimely closing of Hands on a Hardbody and the announced April 21 closing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The shows filled 64.1% and 46.6% of their respective houses. In order to be a success on Broadway, you have to put butts in the seats.

Here are the ten shows playing the fullest houses:

1. Motown: The Musical: 103.6%

2. The Book of Mormon: 102.6%

3. Lucky Guy: 100.2%

4. The Lion King: 99.6%

5. I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers: 98.8%

6. Matilda: 98.7%

7. Wicked: 97.4%

8. Kinky Boots: 95%

9. Newsies: 92.9%

10. Pippin: 92.4%

7 of these 10 are represented on the top-grossing list, albeit not in the same order. The three shows on the above list that were not top grossers (Matilda, Pippin, and I’ll Eat You Last) were still playing previews last week (although for Matilda it was only half the week), a time when producers are still trying to build an audience and often offer discounted and comp tickets to create word of mouth. The major outlier is I’ll East You Last, which plays the tiny Booth Theatre (777 seats) and charged an average of $122.49 a ticket last week because, Bette Midler. All things considered, it seems pretty clear that it is better to sell a ticket for some amount of money than allow that seat to go empty and make nothing. That is where discounted tickets come in.

As of the writing of this article, there were 22 Broadway discounts available on TheaterMania.com, including most of the shows not on the top ten above–and a couple that are. So if you don’t want to stand through a sold-out performance, remember there are plenty of deals to be had that involve a comfortable plush chair on Broadway.

252,058 people attended a Broadway show last week. The average paid admission was $87.11. In total, Broadway grossed $23,143,555. If you act fast, you can be one of them—and on a shoestring—next week.

Click here for more Broadway Grosses.