What we’re NOT telling you about Thanksgiving’s Broadway grosses.
We’ve got a funny way of looking at things.
If you read any of the articles on last week’s Broadway grosses in the “trades” then you probably saw headlines screaming about “soaring” increases with double digit % gains and some shows adding three quarters of a million dollars to their numbers.
Everything’s rosy, right?
Then why, when I was in the thick of it last week, did it not feel so flowery? More on that in a minute, but first let’s talk about all the stories about how awesome we did.
You see, Broadway has this strange way of reporting our numbers. We look at a week’s grosses, and compare them to the week before’s grosses . . . regardless of what the week was. And in this case, the week before Thanksgiving, just happened to be a crap week. So ooohhhh, look at the massive gains . . . compared to a week that sucked. And, it works the other way too. The “papers” will report ridiculous declines in our grosses the week after New Year’s, or the week after Labor Day. It’ll be all doom and gloom and the sky is falling . . . when of course the grosses will take a tumble. That’s what happens every single year.
Comparing a week to the previous week gives us no indication of how we’re really doing as we race to beat our season’s gross and attendance records. The comparison is too dependent on what happened in the prior week. If that week was crappy, then we’ll post super gains. If that week was awesome, we’ll look like losers. That’s like saying, “Hey, I just dropped my golf handicap by 10 strokes!” Yes, that’s good. But if you’re a 30 handicapper, you’re still not a good golfer. Whereas someone saying, “I just dropped my golf handicap by 2 strokes,” who started out as a 8 and is now a 6, is on their way to becoming the next Tiger Woods.
In other words, it’s all relative.
What we need to do is compare our grosses to where we were in the same week one year prior. (And then, if we really got fancy, we’d adjust it for inflation.) Only this comparison gives us an accurate picture of where we are. We need apples to apples. Not apples to last week’s apples. Just writing articles about huge increases or decreases doesn’t tell us anything useful.
That’s why in the grosses that I post on my blog every week, I’m going to start adding a +/- the same week in the previous year statistic. This way you’ll know how we really did. (And I think we’ll be the only Broadway gross reporter on the web showing that stat.)
So let’s go back to why my spidey sense was tingling about last week’s Turkey numbers.
Last week, the total combined gross for all Broadway shows was $33,851,352. (See how those break down here.)
The same frame one year prior was $34,121,642.
Ahhh, ha. So there’s why something didn’t feel so right. We actually dropped almost 1% from last year. See how all of a sudden a more accurate picture is presenting itself?
But wait, there’s more. Because that still doesn’t explain my ooglie-wooglies.
Last season, there were 36 shows running during Thanksgiving.
This season, there were 38.
So fewer dollars, spread out over more shows.
While not a massive change, it’s certainly not a positive one, and certainly not something to write super-duper headlines about.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.