"Les Miserables" stormed back to Broadway and "Aladdin" made a little box office magic of its own last week, with the two big-name tuners beginning previews in a seven-day frame that saw overall Main Stem sales decline.
Curiosity often drives B.O. at a high-profile musical's first preview, but even taking that inflation into account, the $180,871 logged by "Les Miserables" for just a single perf marks a hefty initial haul. The revival, returning to the Rialto after the publicity boost of the 2012 awards-bait movie adaptation, played to 100% capacity and, had it averaged a similar sales tally for an entire week of eight previews, would have reported more than $1.4 million for the sesh. Early word is that advance sales for "Les Miz" (pictured above in its Toronto staging) have been healthy, which suggests the production could well hold on to a good chunk of that momentum in the weeks ahead.
"Aladdin" also looked strong out of the gate, hitting $691,812 for five previews. Fueled by a familiar Disney title and an all-ages target demo, the musical played to full houses but average ticket price came in at a relatively low $80 a pop, in part because of the direct-mail deals that most producers offer ticketbuyers during early performances.
Overall Broadway cume was off about $2 million to $18.5 million for 28 shows on the boards. Some of that decline can be attributed to the timing of the week, which falls somewhere between academic-year winter breaks and the upcoming spring break frames that usually bring a tourism uptick to the Main Stem. Some of the dollar decline can additionally be pegged on the 2014 edition of Kids' Night on Broadway, a street-wide discount offer that ran all week and helps explain falloffs at younger-skewing titles such as "Matilda" ($953,741) and "Cinderella" ($743,843).
A newer addition to the Main Stem roster -- and one still contending with technical hiccups -- "Rocky" ($551,300 for seven previews) slipped a bit compared to its relatively promising early showing the previous week. With the show still fighting against some lingering audience skepticism about the viability of an earnest boxing musical, producers are probably wishing the 74% attendance was higher as well.
Meanwhile, recent opener "The Bridges of Madison County" ($390,578) climbed somewhat in the wake of critical raves for star Kelli O'Hara, but still hasn't quite caught fire with auds. Previewing Bryan Cranston topliner "All the Way" ($652,281) declined vs. the prior frame, although that can be explained in part by the start of press performances over the weekend. The continuation of those comp-heavy perfs plus the March 6 opening will hobble the show's sales in the coming week as well.
Previewing play "Mothers and Sons" ($211,660) continued its slow start, while two other titles exited stage left: "Bronx Bombers" ($169,730) and "Machinal" ($300,119), neither show getting much of a lift from last-minute biz.
With overall Broadway attendance off about 5,500 to 203,099, the week's Top 10 was led by "The Book of Mormon" ($1,549,715), charging ahead of "Wicked" ($1,539,830) and "The Lion King" ($1,474,205).
More of Broadway's crowded spring slate will begin perfs this week, including Idina Menzel starrer "If/Then," launching in the wake of the thesp's attention-getting appearance on the Oscars Sunday night.