Broadway Attendances Drop Over Summer 2013
Summertime and the living is not easy. When the 2012-2013 theatre season came to an end, many producers and Broadway organizations were disappointed to learn that overall attendance and grosses for the year were down from previous years. While the new year on Broadway begins, many are hoping for more productions, filled theaters and plenty of visitors to New York City ready to sit down and enjoy the best entertainment in the world. While we are only three months into that new year, it already seems to be a slow one with numbers down from last year already. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the news that attendance at Broadway shows over summer 2013 were down 8% from summer 2012.
The report on summer 2013 came from theatre producers yesterday in analysis of overall attendance and gross compared to the numbers of summer 2012. According to the producers, Broadway had 8 percent fewer patrons in summer 2013. What exactly does that difference look like? In summer 2013, Broadway welcomed 3,031,890 guests into its theaters while in summer 2012, Broadway saw 3,294,346 guests walk through its doors. However on the positive side, overall gross for summer 2013 was up compared to summer 2012. In summer 2013, Broadway had an overall gross of $323.7 million dollars compared to $321.7 million dollars in summer 2012. The report includes everything that happens on Broadway beginning at Memorial Day and ending at Labor Day.
Broadway’s blockbuster productions were practically rolling in gold this summer. The top three productions of the summer were The Book of Mormon, Disney’s The Lion King and Wicked. All three productions also had the highest ticket prices. However, the winner goes to The Book of Mormon who was selling the highest priced tickets to a Broadway production at $477 for some seats. Four other blockbusters from the spring; Matilda the Musical, Kinky Boots, Pippin and Motown the Musical, all managed to remain popular throughout the summer and play to strong audiences. Never once did any of the seven musicals above appear on TKTS during the summer.
Victoria Bailey, executive director of the Theater Development Fund, said that was something Broadway has never experience before.
“I don’t remember a summer when you had several musicals that didn’t need to offer discounts, and then several theaters with struggling shows or no shows.”
While several new productions opened over the summer like usual, they failed to draw in big crowds to the tourist heavy New York. Productions like Forever Tango, Let It Be and Soul Doctor (Pictured Left) played to smaller houses than expected after not selling well to the tourist driven Broadway this summer. The sales for Let It Be proved so slow that the production shuttered on September 1st instead of waiting out the holiday rush for tickets like it was scheduled to. One production that opened over the summer, First Date, received warm reviews from critics and has overall been doing well with sales and audiences.
Patrick Healy from the New York Times first published an article on this report and helped shed light on many other examples as to why Broadway excelled more last summer then this past one. Last summer, Broadway saw many more popular plays in theaters then it did this past summer. Also, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark just recently posted its second week of gross below $1 million dollars. According to Healy, around this time last year, the production was bringing in a total of $1.5 million a week.
When the numbers for the 2012-2013 Broadway season emerged, it seemed as though many were panicked about the drop in attendance to Broadway in the past year. Luner on Theatre said we believed there was no reason to panic. Today, we still stand by that statement for many reasons. Summertime in New York City is one of the hardest and laziest times for Broadway. New York is filled with tourists who aren’t exactly going to be filling our theaters with new works that we know the general New York theatre audience will during the year. Tourists have their shows they know and those are the shows they wanna see. That proved very much to be the case this past summer. Also this past summer, much like this past year, we saw many Broadway houses sitting empty waiting for new productions to fill them this Fall. Several theaters made the best use of time like Jujamcyn Theaters who welcomed Forever Tango until A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder arrives in October at The Walter Kerr Theatre. Another example is The Shubert Organization who spent $3.5 million dollars on a renovation to The Richard Rodgers Theatre right before Romeo and Juliet began previews last week. Broadway does the best it can. We can’t rush new productions and we can’t fill our theaters with just anything so something is playing there. Art isn’t easy. Art takes time. Broadway has always managed before through the toughest of times and I know it will manage and move forward from this one.
The summer has come and gone and it’s time to move on for Broadway. As the Fall begins and the spring follows not long after, Broadway can only hope and work to make this season the best it possibly can be and brighter than last year. Fall 2013 is looking to be a bright one for Broadway. Already, many new musicals and plays are currently scheduled to begin previews soon and open not long after. Luner on Theatre will be bringing you a full Fall 2013 Preview soon on this blog! Check back soon for that! For more information, check out The Broadway League’s Official Website. Visit Luner on Theatre on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter as well! We are constantly updating these pages with information! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!