Magazine article Variety

Rialto Warming Trend

Magazine article Variety

Rialto Warming Trend

Article excerpt

GOTHAM LIMELIGHT

Broadway continued to inch upward in 2012, not only in terms of grosses - an unsurprising trend, given inflation and the widespread presence of premium-priced seating - but, encouragingly, in terms of attendance as well.

Calendar years don't mean as much to Broadway bookkeepers, who tend to concentrate on the May-to-May season sked as the definitive circle of B.O. life. Still, the numbers can provide a good midseason barometer, and the 2012 figures indicate that despite concerns regarding the lingering attendance dip following superstorm Sandy - as well as insider carping about a mediocre fall season - Broadway biz continued to rise year-to-year.

By Variety's tallies, sales for the 53week period beginning Dec. 26, 2011 and ending Dec. 30, 2012 nudged up to $1.196 billion - although the Broadway League has come up with a different tally, $1.158 billion for 52 weeks, based on an accounting change that shifts the periodic 53-week annual sesh from 2012, as originally planned, back to 2010.

Attendance, per Variety's 53-week frame, climbed to 12.48 million, up from 12.13 million in 2011 and 12.11 million in 2010. Attendance also rose compared with the 2011 frame in the League's accounting, which rang in 12. 16 million theatergoers during the 52-week window.

Variety's 2012 tallies are boosted, of course, by the boffo figures from the 2011 holiday week that are rolled into the 53-week annum. But no matter when you slot in the 53rd week, box office has trended up year-to-year over the past several years.

Among individual shows, "Wicked" remained at the top of the list, logging $96.6 million for the 53-week year. That marks the ninth consecutive calendar year in which the tuner has been the top grosser, a record it continues to hold despite increasing competish from a resurgent "Lion King," which pulled in $94.5 million.

At $84.6 million, "The Book of Mormon" is no slouch either, especially since that show's in a significantly smaller house (1,066 seats) than either "Wicked" (1,809) or "The Lion King" (1,677).

Productions that opened during the year are hindered when compared with those that ran all 53 weeks, but Tony champ "Once" ($40.4 million) and "Newsies" ($39.4 million) nonetheless muscled their way into the Top 10. Ahead of them both was "Evita" ($48.6 million), powered by the B. …

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