The Playgoer: Post-Tony Bump (or not)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Post-Tony Bump (or not)

Via Playbill, here are the Broadway box office stats for the week following the Tonys (June 13-19) for all shows either awarded, nominated, or seen on the broadcast. (With comparisons to previous week.)

Production            % Cap.     Last Week's %     % Change
Anything Goes      100.7%     100.3%             0.5%
Arcadia                 62.4%       51.7%              10.7%
Baby It's You!       77.6%       75.2%              2.4%
Bengal Tiger…     44.5%        43.2%              1.3%
Billy Elliot             88.9%        87.4%              1.5%
Born Yesterday     44.7%       46.1%             -1.4%
Catch Me…         92.4%       87.6%               4.8%
Ghetto Klown      69.8%        65.2%               4.7%
How to Succeed 100.5%       94.5%              6.0%
Jerusalem             73.1%         76.6%            -3.5%
Memphis             88.4%          83.0%             5.4%
Priscilla               68.2%          59.9%              8.3%
Sister Act            82.2%         80.9%              1.3%
Spider-Man       100.1%         97.4%              2.6%
Book of Mormon 102.6%     102.6%              0.0%
Blue Leaves           66.6%        67.0%            -0.4%
Importance…Earnest 68.4%    65.9%            2.5%
Mother w/ Hat      92.3%       85.4%            6.9%
Normal Heart       99.1%        89.8%           9.3%
People in the Picture 79.3%    57.6%           21.7%
War Horse             100.0%      100.0%            0.0%

Take-away: The Tony Broadcast does not help plays. Except for "The Normal Heart" (big time) and "Motherfucker" (wee bit).

Note "War Horse" (like "Book of Mormon") were already doing boffo pre-Tonys.

But otherwise, without any actual performance on air, even if you have Robin Williams (c.f. "Bengal Tiger"), you might as well stay home.


Jason Zinoman said...

If you look at a few more years, what you'll find is that the Tony Awards can help plays, under the right circumstances. The Tonys don't help plays that lose. The question is: When does it help plays that win? And there's mixed evidence for this, but basically, winning best play can help. War Horse didn't need it for NY, but when it tours, i suspect the Tony will matter. I think your conclusion applies more to actor awards. If you looked at the box office for the winners of the best actor award for the past ten years, i would not be surprised if you discovered that what happened to Jerusalem is not an anomaly.

Anonymous said...

Jason, are you saying that the best actor award usually leads to a decrease in attendance, as appears to be the case this year?

Leigh Hile said...

It looks like Arcadia got a pretty big bump too, which is odd because I don't recall it winning much or really having much of a presence at the Tonys at all. Maybe just a coincidence.

Playgoer said...

The Arcadia spike is best explained by the fact that this was its closing week. Ditto for another Tony-less critical disappointment, "People in the Picture" that fared well last week. Sorry I didn't mention that context.

Jason Zinoman said...

Anon: I'm saying that winning the best actor Tony mattes less than winning the best play Tony which matters much less than winning the best musical Tony. Truth is: i haven't looked at this question systematically (or called producers about it) in a few years but i recall my days as the on stage and off columnist that the question of the Tony effect on box office was a stand-by story and the results were mixed. Skepticism over the impact of the Tonys, especially relative to what the campaigning would have you believe, is warranted. And the actors awards usually matter not at all in moving the numbers. But the producers who spend money to lobby for awards aren't completely nuts. There are scenarios where winning a best play appeared to help. Sometimes its not one tony sells tickets, but if a play could say we won five tonys, including actor, then that would have an impact. I suspect that this year War Horse has a chance of benefitting on the road but also in the months ahead when audience might have tapered off. But maybe not. Time will tell.

Tiffany Rae Knight said...

I just had to throw out there I was surprised myself to sort of notice the draw didn't change. Went for standing room for Book of Mormon-- and honestly the line/wait didn't seem all that different to it's usual draw.

Not that Book of Mormon needed any help-- but I still expected to see even a crazier flood but it seemed on par or even smaller.

I can't help but wonder if doing brief scenes, live montages like the have in the past with the plays might boost the shows more though-- I know that it's sparked my interest in ones I hadn't really considered prior.