The Playgoer: Broadway Tourism

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Broadway Tourism

The foreigners are back... according to the eagerly anticipated (in some circles) League of American Theaters and Producers survey.

Variety has the skinny:

According to a demographic report by the League of American Theaters & Producers, tourists bought 57% of the record 12 million tickets sold during the season. And it's tourists who keep all those long-running tuners going, ringing in 63% of sales at shows that have run 16 months or longer.

With Broadway upping its global presence over the past several years -- thanks in part to popular international incarnations of Rialto offerings such as "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Lion King" and "Chicago," not to mention recent pic adaptations -- the international tourism biz also has surged back from its post-9/11 low.

Foreigners bought 1.32 million Rialto tickets during the 2005-06 season, up a bit from the prior season and on par with a pre-9/11 record hit during the 1999-2000 season.

But, surprsingly, New Yorkers are starting to show up at the theatre, too...
Purchases by residents of New York City (totaling 2.3 million) and its suburbs (2.9 million) were both higher than tallies posted in the 2004-05 season. Last season's jam-packed theatrical slate provided more attractions than usual for Gothamites, who tend to check out a new production earlier than auds from farther afield.
Why do I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that most of these 5 million tickets were for Jersey Boys? (Or at least the 2.9 mil "suburban" sales...)

The most revealing trend?

Twenty-seven percent of theatergoers bought tickets on the day of the performance, the highest proportion in six years, while 32% bought tickets more than one month in advance, the lowest percentage since 2001.

In many cases, the trend toward last-minute sales makes it more difficult for producers to get a long-range sense of a show's financial outlook.

Of course, the "advance" is what producing theatre is all about now. Whether you're Disney or downtown, where they call it "subscriptions," of course. But what to do when audiences--especially younger audiences--are becoming more spontaneous?

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