ARTS

West End shows lift Broadway box office figures to an all-time high

By Anita Singh -  04 Jan 2019

HIT West End plays that transferred to Broadway helped push box-office takings to an all-time high of £46 million ($58 million) in New York last week.

12,976 - The number of people who paid around £154 each to see the Broadway production of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child led the charge by taking almost £2  million ($2.52 million) – a Broadway record for a non-musical production.

It was seen by 12,976 people who paid an average of £154 for a ticket to the show which opened in London in 2016 and is currently playing at the Palace Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue, Melbourne, San Francisco and Hamburg. The story is told over two performances, with theatre goers advised to see both as the first part “will only be half the story, so the experience would be incomplete without seeing how it ends”.

The other British plays to take more than $1 million last week were the 
National’s production of Network, starring Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston and The Ferryman, the drama from Jez Butterworth set in rural Northern Ireland and featuring Paddy Considine.

12,976

Coming second to Harry Potter was a US production, Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, which took £1.35 million. The show opened just last month after a legal wrangle over the changes made to some of the characters penned by Harper Lee was resolved.

The last week of December is traditionally a boom time for Broadway, with some productions squeezing in an extra performance.

But it became the most lucrative in the theatre district’s history, with 378,910 tickets sold and attendance up by 23 per cent up on the previous seven days, according to figures from The Broadway League.

Charlotte St Martin, the national trade association’s president, told The New York Times: “I often say Broadway is a wonderful escape from what’s going on in the world, and lots of people were escaping last week.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Hamilton became the first Broadway show to take more than $4 million (£3.16 million) in a single week with average priced tickets selling for £297 and the best seats fetching £671.

Broadway shows operate a dynamic pricing system, whereby the cost of a ticket goes up or down according to demand. Hamilton remains the hottest ticket in town both in the US and the UK.

A recent report in The Washington Post noted: “The ability to persuade the public to pay ultra-extravagant prices for the biggest hits is driving Broadway’s overall average ticket prices up, further fuelling the perception of a loony market.”

A recent survey of West End theatre found that top-end prices have risen by 19 per cent year-on-year to an average of £117.52. According to The Stage, the average price for the cheapest tickets has fallen by just under 10 per cent to £19.31, although those account for a small fraction of the available seats.

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