Entertainment & Arts

Broadway sees 2015 audience numbers dip

Finding Neverland Image copyright AP
Image caption Finding Neverland enjoyed record festive takings

Broadway's 2015 box office takings have dropped $8m (£5m) from the previous year despite a strong Christmas period.

Industry statistics released on Monday show theatres took an overall $1.354bn (£923m) in 2015, compared to 2014's total of $1.362bn (£928m).

Audience figures also saw a dip from 13.13 million people to 12.98 million in 2015.

Yet the year ended on a high as several shows, including Aladdin and The Illusionists, broke theatre records.

The Broadway League said 2014 had set a surprising benchmark for takings and attendance.

"We are very happy with this season because we are comparing it to the biggest season, and we are very close. It's hard to add to it until we add more theatres," said Charlotte St Martin, president of the Broadway League, in a Wall Street Journal interview.

In addition, the difference between 2014 and 2015 was partly due to the number of total weeks overall that shows were on stage, the league said.

In 2015 there were 33 fewer playing weeks than 2014.

Highs and lows

The league's figures show that 20 productions out of the 38 playing in the New York theatre hub took more than $1m in the seven days of last week.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Old favourite the Lion King was top of the Broadway box office for the third year

Musicals Book of Mormon, the Lion King and Wicked took more than $2m (£1.3m), while Aladdin made a record-breaking $2,398,110 (£1,633,907) for nine shows.

The Illusionists at the Neil Simon Theatre took in $1,801,326 (£1,227,299) over 13 performances, breaking the record set at the venue by All the Way in 2014.

Peter Pan tale Finding Neverland at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre also enjoyed record-breaking takings of $1,477,174 (£1,006,444) for nine shows.

The success of the final week of 2015 - in which Broadway box offices pulled in $43,065,466 (£29,341,844) - was not a total surprise since ticket prices habitually rise over the Christmas period and theatres put on extra shows.

Yet the final six weeks of 2015 saw a $7m (£4.7m) drop in box office takings over the same period last year.

But 2015 was a successful year if looked at from the perspective of the consistently successful musicals, such as the Lion King and Book of Mormon. And the year also saw a hit in the new musical Hamilton, which earned unprecedented pop-culture attention.

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