Broadway Christmas Week Bounty Falls Short of 2014

The Lion King Still 1 - H 2015

Despite the disappointing total overall, a healthy 18 shows grossed more than $1 million apiece, with three productions crossing the $2 million threshold.

While almost 300,000 ticket buyers caught a Broadway show during Christmas week, box office failed to match the heights hit in 2014. Total grosses for the week ending Dec. 27 were $36.3 million for 37 productions, down from just under $41 million for 36 shows during the corresponding week last year.

However, there was no shortage of productions playing to sold-out or near-capacity houses, with three shows posting grosses north of $2 million for the week.

Continuing its long-established pattern, Disney's The Lion King led the field with $2,588,075, followed by Wicked with $2,400,920 and another Disney show, Aladdin, with $2,095,364.

The shortfall compared to last year can partly be attributed to the fact that, due to the way the holidays fall this year, all three of those top shows stuck to the regular eight-performance schedule — as opposed to playing nine in 2014.

The Lion King and Aladdin both set new house records for an eight-performance schedule, in the Minskoff and New Amsterdam Theatres, respectively, as did newcomer School of Rock at the Winter Garden, with $1,506,236.

That well-received Andrew Lloyd Webber show was one of 15 productions to gross between $1 million and $2 million last week, many of them new-season entries. Other musicals bringing fresh commercial vigor to Broadway included Fiddler on the Roof ($1,339,258), On Your Feet! ($1,239,109), The Color Purple ($1,008,774), and of course, current-season blockbuster Hamilton ($1,844,837). The Vegas-style magic-act anthology, The Illusionists, also proved a solid draw in its second holiday engagement, grossing $1,362,681 for the week.

Among shows from the 2014-15 season that demonstrated continued staying power as holiday attractions are An American in Paris ($1,282,029), The King and I ($1,094,022), Finding Neverland ($1,029,245) and Something Rotten! ($1,005,546).

Sturdy perennials from earlier seasons were led by The Book of Mormon ($1,891356), followed by The Phantom of the Opera ($1,458,784), Matilda ($1,172,663), Les Miserables ($1,139,926) and Kinky Boots ($1,075,999).

Musicals are always the chief beneficiaries of increased family and tourist traffic during what is invariably one of the most bountiful weeks of the year for Broadway box office, with very few plays getting a look in. That was true this year even of star vehicles like China Doll with Al Pacino ($610,775) and Misery with Bruce Willis ($572,850), both of which have lost some of the heat of their preview periods since opening to lukewarm reviews. And musicals that were struggling at the box office continued to do so; neither Allegiance with George Takei and Lea Salonga ($485,849) nor Dames at Sea ($123,725) received much of a Christmas boost.

The week of New Years is another traditionally robust session for Broadway (it outstripped Christmas week by more than $1 million last year), meaning that annual totals may still inch a little closer to the record haul for 2014 of $1.36 billion, with 13.13 million admissions. Heavy-hitters The Lion King, Aladdin, Wicked and The Book of Mormon all have nine performances scheduled for this week.

As of Sunday, grosses for the calendar year are $1.35 billion, with attendance of 12.98 million. The Lion King is poised to be Broadway's top earner for the third consecutive year.