Broadway Grosses Record $1.1 Billion as ‘Wicked,’ ‘Mormon’ Defy Gravity

Photographer: Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

"The Book of Mormon" at the Eugene O' Neill Theatre. The satirical show won nine Tony Awards, including best musical, and is virtually sold out through the rest of 2011. Close

"The Book of Mormon" at the Eugene O' Neill Theatre. The satirical show won nine Tony... Read More

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Photographer: Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

"The Book of Mormon" at the Eugene O' Neill Theatre. The satirical show won nine Tony Awards, including best musical, and is virtually sold out through the rest of 2011.

Broadway sold a record $1.1 billion of tickets in the past 12 months, buoyed by “Wicked,” “The Book of Mormon” and other hits that charge $300 and up for the top seats.

Ticket revenue was up 5.9 percent from a year ago, said the Broadway League, a trade association of producers and theater owners, in a release. The top sellers over the past week, which included the three-day Memorial Day weekend, were “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1.3 million), “Book of Mormon” ($1.2 million), “The Lion King” ($1.6 million) and “Wicked” ($1.7 million).

All told, 42 shows opened during the season, the second- highest total in at least 24 years.

“We had such a variety of product,” said Stephanie Lee, president of ticket agency Group Sales Box Office. “So many shows opened, which is appealing to us because we have a lot to talk about.”

Attendance was 12.5 million, up 5.4 percent from a year earlier. Comparing revenue and attendance with previous seasons is inexact. Every seven years the Broadway season is 53 weeks, instead of 52. The 2010-2011 season was 53 weeks. Moreover, “Young Frankenstein,” which ran from November 2007 to January 2009, never reported its grosses to the Broadway League, unlike other shows.

Photographer: Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

Mackenzie Crook in "Jerusalem," a play by Jez Butterworth at the Music Box Theatre. Close

Mackenzie Crook in "Jerusalem," a play by Jez Butterworth at the Music Box Theatre.

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Photographer: Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

Mackenzie Crook in "Jerusalem," a play by Jez Butterworth at the Music Box Theatre.

The average ticket price, $86.21 in 2010-2011, was up 43 cents from $85.78 last season. Hits charge more, as producers adjust prices based on demand.

Prices also vary widely at different sellers. As of 3 p.m. this afternoon, a pair of fourth-row orchestra seats was available for tonight’s “Mormon” -- an exuberant satire of Mormonism and musicals -- for $815.75 from Telecharge.com, the show’s primary ticket outlet.

Those prices are a bargain relative to what’s available for tonight’s “Mormon” from the online marketplace StubHub: a pair in the mezzanine sells for $1,181.

The Broadway League’s season total excludes markups that online markets and ticket brokers charge.

Despite the record revenue, just one fall opening, the Beatles tribute “Rain,” is still running on Broadway. Among new musicals this spring, “Mormon” was the only one to enjoy uniformly strong reviews.

The season’s two musical revivals, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Anything Goes,” have played to full houses.

To contact the writers on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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