Now this will leave some damage.
As everyone knows from the wall-to-wall news coverage, Hurricane Irene swept through the Eastern Seaboard. Although some places were hit hard, New York City escaped with relatively minor damage. However, because the actual severity of the hurricane could not be predicted, several safety precautions were taken in Manhattan to limit the potential cost to human life. One of the most significant moves was the suspension of public transportation, which in part lead to the cancellation of Broadway shows for the weekend. This is even more significant if you take into account that many shows, like Billy Elliot and the Lion King, have two performances on weekend days (forcing the cancellation of up to four shows over a two-day period).
So it’s no surprise that Broadway took in 36% less money than it did for the same week last year ($11.62 million vs. $18.15 million) with an equally huge drop in attendance (from 204,265 last year to 130,853 this year). Obviously that is a significant drop that shows just how important summer weekend business is for Broadway productions. Even the major sellers, like the ultra-blockbuster Book of Mormon, were affected significantly. The Book of Mormon took in nearly a half-million dollars less than the week before even though it still managed to sell out all of its other shows this week. On the other hand, Billy Elliot only managed to put on four performances this week instead of its usual eight, taking in $358,485, far lower than the $731,895 it made the previous week (Billy Elliot only runs Wednesday through Sunday — it is dark on Monday and Tuesday).
Still, don’t shed any tears for Broadway — so far New York theaters are up 1.1% at the box office this year despite taking a 0.9% dip in attendance this year. The rough economy is still hurting Broadway as much as most other entertainment outlets, so Hurricane Irene definitely didn’t help the Great White Way in that regard.
Still, I am sure all of New York City is thankful that the storm didn’t hit the city as hard as expected. A massive power outage, as speculated, could have left the lights on Broadway dark for much longer!