'Wicked' Smashes $3 Million Threshold in Record-Breaking Broadway Holiday Week

Lindsay Mendez as Elphaba in "Wicked"
Lindsay Mendez as Elphaba in "Wicked"
 Joan Marcus

NEW YORK – Maybe having a green protagonist is a good luck charm?

Wicked, the blockbuster musical that tells the backstory of the witches in The Wizard of Oz, shattered its own record over Christmas, becoming the first and only Broadway musical in history to gross north of $3 million in a single week.

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The show, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, topped the box office for the week ending Dec. 29, earning $3,201,333 for nine performances and besting its standing high from the same holiday week last year: $2,947,142.

While premium-price seating is generally credited for setting new highs on Broadway, Wicked's record also was boosted by an anniversary refit of the production’s long-standing home at the Gershwin Theatre, providing access to 119 additional seats for high-demand performances.

The musical’s cumulative gross since opening in 2003 now stands at $796.9 million.

Disney’s The Lion King also set a new house record at the Minskoff Theatre, raking in $2,837,158 for the week. Now in its 16th year, that production also was the highest earner of 2013 on Broadway. Its $96.9 million tally inched just ahead of Wicked at $95.3 million for the calendar year. The Lion King this year crossed a major milestone, becoming the first Broadway show in history to gross $1 billion.

Also going strong with an annual total of $90.4 million is The Book of Mormon, which broke the house record at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre for the 49th time with a weekly tally of $2,145,404.

Another house record was set at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre by this year’s Tony Award winner for best musical, Kinky Boots, which kicked up a hefty $2,247,239.

While Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark failed to match its previous weekly high of $2,941,794 at the end of 2011, the superhero spectacle last week was the fifth show to top the $2 million mark. It grossed $2,176,436, no doubt representing bittersweet news on the production’s final Christmas in New York. The most expensive show in Broadway history, with a reported budget of $75 million, Spider-Man is scheduled to close Jan. 4 at an estimated loss of $60 million.

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Musicals invariably reap the biggest holiday rewards on Broadway. But Mike Nichols’ production of the Harold Pinter drama Betrayal, starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall, registered the highest weekly total of any play in Broadway history, grossing $1,442,087. The return engagement of Billy Crystal’s solo show, 700 Sundays, was close behind with $1,403,415, despite playing only six performances.

Along with Thanksgiving week, the Christmas-New Year period traditionally is the most bountiful for Broadway grosses, particularly since many shows add an extra performance to the standard schedule.

Total box office for the week ending Dec. 29 was an all-time high of $38,783,854, up from $37,441,497 for the corresponding week in 2012. Attendance increased by more than 45,000 from the previous week to total 290,386 admissions, or 95.88 percent of seating capacity. The highest average ticket price was scored by The Book of Mormon at $245.

Broadway seasons run from June through May of the following year to correspond with the Tony Awards. The current season’s gross to date stands at $741.3 million, representing a hike of 7.9 percent from $686.9 million at the same point last year.

In addition to the shows that hurdled the lofty $2 million mark, a whopping 13 productions grossed more than $1 million over Christmas week, including The Phantom of the Opera ($1,843,296), Matilda ($1,732,800), Motown: The Musical ($1,708,597), Annie ($1,566,847), Cinderella ($1,479,890), Jersey Boys ($1,285,451), Newsies ($1,278,045), Pippin ($1,245,604), Mamma Mia! ($1,172,129), Chicago ($1,059,107) and Once ($1,035,178).

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