Broadway posts larger takings for past season

Tue May 31, 2011 6:56pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Broadway theaters increased gross revenues in the 2010/11 season, as the U.S. economy emerged from recession, while attendance figures have stayed relatively steady in the past five years.

The Broadway League said on Tuesday in the 52-week period ending May 22, gross takings were $1.06 billion, compared to $1.02 billion for the previous 52 weeks.

The number of people attending shows in the same period was 12.26 million, up three per cent compared to last year's figures, according to the trade association representing theater owners, operators and producers.

Several years ago showed similar attendance figures, with the 2007/2008 season producing 12.27 million in attendance. The 2009/10 season produced 11.89 in attendance.

The Broadway League attributed a diversity of shows to the continued increase in grosses. It said shows yielded an official gross of more than $1.08 billion for the 2010/11 season and 12.53 million in attendance, but those figures included adding an extra week, a 53rd week, that happens every seven years to maintain an end-of-May season.

Producers have increased revenue in the past several years aided by premium front-of-house and last-minute seats, which can sell for as much as $400.

The season, which saw previews for the accident-prone yet so far profitable blockbuster new musical, "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark" by U2's Bono and the Edge, saw the opening of 42 shows opened including 14 musicals, 25 plays and 3 specials.

The season included box-office and well-received hits ranging from the Tony-nominated musical, "The Book of Mormon," a spoof about a pair of Mormon men on a mission to Africa from the creators of the TV series "South Park," to "War Horse," a play transferred from London that uses projections and puppets.

Older favorites such as "The Lion King" and "Wicked" continue to pull in the crowds, with both raking in more than $1.65 million for the week ending May 29, many years after they first opened.

Big-name movie stars have continued to flock to Broadway with producers keen to guarantee better sales with Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Al Pacino and Daniel Radcliffe all headlining recent shows.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Jill Serjeant)

<p>Patrons wait in line at the box office of the Foxwoods Theater, home to the Broadway play ''Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark'' in New York March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>