Broadway rebounded during the week between Christmas and New Years, as multiple shows broke box office records and the industry saw one of its first relatively normal holiday weeks since the pandemic began.
The Lion King, which has been running on Broadway since 1997, topped the charts by grossing more than $4.3 million across nine performances, in what appears to be the highest gross for the show and a rare milestone to reach in the industry. Hamilton was the first Broadway show to crack $4 million, which it achieved across eight performances in the holiday week ended Dec. 30, 2018.
The Lion King played to a capacity of 99 percent, with an average paid admission of $284.89, the second highest among all shows for the week.
Overall, in the week ended Jan. 1, 2023, all 33 running Broadway shows brought in $51.9 million collectively, the highest gross of the season so far, and played to a capacity of 92 percent. This is vast improvement over the comparable week last year, during which 31 Broadway shows brought in just $26.3 million, as the industry was marred by a surge in omicron cases and saw the cancellation of dozens of performances and the permanent closure of some shows.
And it’s above pre-pandemic totals. In the comparable week ended Jan. 5, 2020, the industry grossed $43.1 million across 36 shows. However, the industry did gross more that Christmas, bringing in $55.7 million in the week ended Dec. 29, 2019, compared to this season’s $34.8 million.
The weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years are typically the highest grossing weeks on Broadway, thanks to increased attendance as well as higher ticket prices, and help many shows survive through the subsequent, lower-attended winter months or send the closing shows off on a high.
Many shows played less than eight performances during this year’s Christmas week, which cut down on box office totals, and made up for it in the week between Christmas and New Years by playing nine performances, which also elevated the typical weekly totals.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again set the record for the highest weekly gross for a play in Broadway history, according to the production, by bringing in $2.67 million across eight performances in the week ended Jan. 1 with an average ticket price of $205.86. It previously set the record with $2.52 million in the week ended Dec. 30, 2018 with an average ticket price of $194.66. At that time, the production was still a two-part play. It was condensed into one part when it returned to Broadway after the theatrical shutdown in November 2021.
Chicago recorded its highest gross in its 26-year history on Broadway, bringing in $1.3 million across nine performances with an average ticket price of $132, and besting its previous record set across nine performances during the holiday week in 2017, with an average ticket price of $128.
Indeed, while many shows break theater box office records each year due to the fact that the ticket prices are higher, the new musical & Juliet, a pop reimagining of the Shakespearean tale in which Juliet survives, grossed $1.7 million for its nine-performance week ended Jan. 1 and beat the previous box office record at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre set by Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, while having similar ticket prices. Beautiful previously broke the record for its nine-performance week in 2014, by grossing $1.55 million for the week ended Dec. 28, 2014, with an average ticket price of $174.90, compared to & Juliet’s $177.29. Beautiful had a higher premium ticket price of $350 compared to & Juliet’s $325.
Other notable highs included The Music Man, which posted its highest gross yet at $3.97 million across nine shows, Funny Girl, which reached a record of $2.4 million across nine shows and Six, which beat its previous box office record by grossing $1.65 million across eight shows.