While it’s not the official end of summer, it’s safe to say that Labor Day weekend caps off the summer tourist season on Broadway. School is back in session, summer hours are over at work, and people won’t start taking major trips to New York City again until before the holidays. In light of that, we decided to look at the past 10 years of Labor Day weekend grosses to find out which shows ruled the box office during those final days of summer.
Here are the numbers:
|Year||Top Gross||Top Capacity||Top Ticket Price|
|2012||The Lion King ($1,721,417)||The Book of Mormon (102.6%)||The Book of Mormon ($477.00)|
|2011||Wicked ($1,602,104)||The Book of Mormon (102.4%)||How To Succeed… ($302.00)|
|2010||Wicked ($1,622,078)||Wicked (100.0%)||The Lion King ($116.66)|
|2009||Wicked ($1,549,937)||Jersey Boys (101.3%)||Jersey Boys ($350.00)|
|2008||Wicked ($1,521,795)||Rent (100.8%)||Jersey Boys ($350.00)|
|2007||Wicked ($1,3480,508)||Grease (100.90%)||Jersey Boys ($351.00)|
|2006||Wicked ($1,452,817)||The History Boys (102.3%)||Spamalot ($301.25)|
|2005||Wicked ($1,302,047)||Spamalot (101.8%)||Spamalot ($301.25)|
|2004||Wicked ($1,211,753)||Wicked (100.0%)||The Boy from Oz ($251.25)|
|2003||The Lion King ($1,133,810)||The Lion King (101.6%)||The Producers ($480.00)|
|2002||The Producers ($1,121,419)||Mamma Mia (101.8%)||The Producers ($480.00)|
In terms of gross earnings, it looks like Wicked is to Labor Day weekend what Will Smith is to Independence Day weekend. It’s dominated the Labor Day weekend box office for 7 out of the past 10 years. This year, The Lion King surpassed it for the top spot, but only by relatively small margin of $21,000.
But interestingly enough, Wicked has only grabbed the top spot in capacity twice. Without standing room tickets, Wicked can’t go higher than 100% capacity, which often keeps it from that top spot. That category was pretty much all over the map — usually going to crowd-favorites like The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, and the reigning box-office capacity champ, The Book of Mormon. Rent took the top spot in 2008 — a week before it closed. Grease nabbed it in 2007 — two weeks after it started previews.
You know where else you won’t see Wicked? In the top ticket price column. That doesn’t mean you can get bargain-priced tickets to Wicked, of course. You can’t have a top grossing show without selling a few expensive tickets. But the producers may have a strategy to keep the prices high, but relatively accessible. Or maybe a $400 ticket to Wicked just isn’t sellable. Unlike, say, to The Producers. Remember when people spent $480 on a single ticket to that show? Oh Broadway… you so crazy.
The biggest surprise, though, is The History Boys, which had the highest capacity percentage in 2007, a full four weeks before it closed. It was the only play to appear in either of the top categories in 10 years. Impressive.
As for Wicked, we’re sure we’ll be seeing it nab this spot for years to come. Which, for a first-run show with an original score that doesn’t rely on stunt casting to sell tickets, is fine by us.
Grosses are provided courtesy of The Broadway League. Click here to read this week’s complete list of grosses.