Broadway grosses took a hit last week as several productions canceled performances due to COVID-19 cases in their companies.
The industry grossed $22.5 million across 31 shows, marking the third lowest gross on record for the season. However, industrywide attendance stayed somewhat stable, with theaters collectively reporting an 82.6% capacity.
The comparative week in 2019, which had 34 productions running, saw a total gross of $40.6 million.
Altogether, productions grossed $8 million less than in the previous week. Due to the many COVID-19 cancellations, as well as other emergencies that arose, there were 44 fewer performances last week and one fewer production — “Mrs. Doubtfire” was on hiatus — than in the previous week. Nine productions have now canceled through Christmas, impacting next week’s grosses report.
Some industry members fear the financial impact of prolonged closures on individual shows, as well as on the industry itself, as the cancellations come in the midst of its highest grossing period of the year. “Jagged Little Pill” has already announced its closure, becoming the first casualty of this most recent wave.
However, many of the running Broadway shows have federal grants of up to $10 million to help buffer the losses. According to Hunter Arnold, producer of “Hadestown” and “Chicken & Biscuits,” the recent slate of cancellations may just accelerate the timeline for a certain group of shows.
“It’s not going to take down any long-term healthy show that was going to have a great long run,” Arnold said. “It may abbreviate shows that were already a limited run, or that were already on the decline.”
To that end, Jeremy Kraus, managing partner at Situation marketing agency, said popular shows that are still running had not seen large drop off in interest after the slate of cancellations across the industry. The Broadway League has not released individual grosses for the season, making it difficult to analyze the financial health of each show.
While the cancellations are coming during the holiday season, Arnold believes the industry as a whole will reemerge, albeit somewhat battered, in a couple of months or as soon as the life cycle of the quick-moving Omicron variant has reached an end. Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin told Broadway News that an industry shutdown is not currently on the table.
The variant is now dominant in the U.S. and has contributed to 90% or more of new infections in the region that contains New York, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.