London 2012 Theater Ticket Sales Hit Record

Despite a recession and the Summer Olympics, West End visitor numbers also rose slightly as a big gain for plays outweighed lower musical attendance.

LONDON - Theater stages in Britain's capital had a record year in 2012 despite predictions that a recession and the Summer Olympics would dampen visitors and ticket spending.

Ticket sales for the year edged up 0.3 percent to around $835 million (just under £530 million), the Evening Standard reported late Tuesday, citing data from the Society of London Theatre. 

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While attendance dropped during the Summer Games here, full-year attendance rose 0.55 percent to nearly 14 million, it said. Plays recorded a 9 percent audience gain, driven by big demand for such shows as the Shakespeare's Globe theater productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night. Musicals posted a 3 percent audience decline.

Mark Rubinstein, president of the Society of London Theatre, said the lower musicals sales can in part be explained by deliberate delays in the opening of shows due to Olympic uncertainty. Such shows as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Book of Mormon are set to open in London this year.

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The report said some stages canceled performances during the Olympics last year, but the first week of the Summer Games recorded higher ticket sales than during the 2011 week of the royal wedding.

Broadway also reported a record year. Total grosses reached $1.14 billion for the 2011-2012 season that wrapped in May.

Twitter: @georgszalai