Broadway grosses and attendance slip during a season hurt by Sept. 11

Friday, May 31st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Staggered by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a faltering economy, Broadway grosses slipped a bit during the 2001-2002 season and so did attendance, according to figures from the League of American Theatres and Producers.

Yet the drops were not as large as originally anticipated last fall, Jed Bernstein, league president, said Thursday.

For the season ending May 26, Broadway shows in New York grossed a total of $643.4 million, a drop of some $22.8 million from the previous season, the league said. Some 10.95 million tickets were sold during the season, compared to 11.6 million a year earlier, a record-breaking season.

``Though we continue to be challenged by the decrease in tourists and the soft economy, we are cautiously optimistic, that barring any unforeseen circumstances, Broadway will continue to plot its financial recovery,'' Bernstein said.

Ticket prices also inched upward, with several musicals quietly joining ``The Producers'' with a $100 top ticket price, and many plays charging $75 for their best seats.

The week of Sept. 11 had a devastating effect on Broadway, with grosses dropping that week to $3.5 million, after reaching $9.6 million the previous week. Five shows quickly closed. Yet business improved during the usually slow winter months, helped by aggressive marketing campaigns and discount ticket sales, money from both the state and city government and mild weather, Bernstein said.

In April, Broadway had several record-breaking weeks, although spring attendance was still lagging, down to 3 million from 3.3 million the previous spring.

Yet despite the declines, several major productions announced this week they had recouped their investments. Those financially successful shows include ``Elaine Stritch at Liberty,'' which cost $1.25 million to produce; the $1.6 million ``Metamorphoses,'' a leading contender for best-play honors Sunday at the Tony Awards, and ``Mamma Mia!'', the $10 million ABBA musical which opened last October.