Broadway Celebrates New Year With Record Weekly Grosses

Joan Marcus
Rory O'Malley in 'Hamilton'

'Hamilton,' 'Wicked' and 'The Lion King' all soared past $3 million, with a host of other $1 million-plus earners pushing the overall total close to $50 million for the history-making week.

House records toppled across Broadway during the week ending Sunday, Jan. 1, with a whopping 24 productions grossing more than $1 million apiece, including four that earned more than $2 million each and another three that exceeded $3 million.

According to figures published Tuesday by the Broadway League, total grosses for the 33 productions on the boards came to an all-time high of $49.7 million for the week, continuing the long tradition of Christmas-through-New Year’s being the most lucrative stretch of the Broadway year. Given that the week ending Dec. 25 marked the 52-week cutoff for 2016, last week also signaled a buoyant start to 2017.

That total was up from $43 million for the corresponding week last season, which covered 38 productions. Attendance also was up by just a whisker, hitting 359,495 admissions last week, compared to 357,718 the previous year.

Hamilton easily hurdled the $3 million mark with eight performances (many shows bump up to nine in holiday weeks); the production's top premium ticket price of $998 helped it earn a record $3,335,430 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

The perennially popular Wicked was the street's second-highest earner, though it fell just short of breaking its own record, with $3,162,603 at the Gershwin Theatre from nine performances. However, The Lion King did set a new house record at the Minskoff Theatre with $3,098,330, also from nine shows.

In addition to The Lion King, Disney set a house record at the New Amsterdam Theatre with Aladdin, raking in $2,583,344 with nine performances. Other shows that topped $2 million and established new house records included the magic-act anthology The Illusionists: Turn of the Century, returning for its third seasonal engagement with a record haul of $2,397,106 from 17 performances, and The Book of Mormon at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, with $2,108,804 from nine shows.

All three of Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows on Broadway chalked up record-breaking sales, each of them playing nine performances: School of Rock had its best-ever week at the Winter Garden Theatre, grossing $2,022,136, while The Phantom of the Opera hit a new weekly high at the Majestic with $1,942,351, and Cats brought in $1,723,569 at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Three shows heading for their final performances — Matilda ($1,902,189), Jersey Boys ($1,778,189) and Something Rotten! ($1,478,302) — all registered their best weeks ever, as did Cirque du Soleil's Paramour ($1,908,019), Waitress ($1,331,954) and the eternal Chicago ($1,248,473), now in its 21st year.

New fall entries that made significant contributions to the holiday bounty included Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 ($1,371,950), marking its best week yet at the Imperial Theatre; A Bronx Tale ($1,293,125), setting a house record at the Longacre; and Dear Evan Hansen ($1,266,197), setting another house record at the Music Box.

Longer-running musicals that saw a notable surge in business over the holiday week included Kinky Boots ($1,422,339), On Your Feet! ($1,304,175), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical ($1,198,245) and The Color Purple ($1,172,091). Among the strongest of the previous-season holdovers was Fiddler on the Roof, which grossed $1,848,030 in its final week before closing.

Nonmusical productions that also posted robust numbers included The Front Page ($1,291,255), which was impacted by star Nathan Lane missing three performances; Cate Blanchett in The Present ($969,495); Oh, Hello on Broadway ($911,602); and Tony winner The Humans ($814,555), the top-grossing play of the year, with a cumulative total of $23 million.

While Broadway is a seasonal business that runs from May through April, pegged to the Tony Awards' eligibility period, totals were released the previous week for calendar 2016, which hit a record high of $1.367 billion and attendance of 13.25 million.