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London Theaters Grossed Record $831 Million in 2012

Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall in
Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall in "Constellations" by Nick Payne at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. Payne's play deals with the idea that a quantum multiverses, or parallel universes, are created by every choice we make. Photographer: Johan Persson/Jo Allan PR via Bloomberg

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- London theaters saw revenue rise 0.27 percent to a record 529.8 million pounds ($832 million) in 2012, even though ticket sales dipped during the London Olympic Games.

In attendance terms, there was a 0.56 percent rise to 13.99 million, the Society of London Theatre announced today. The organization represents the owners, managers and producers of 52 subsidized and commercial theaters in London, and organizes the Olivier Awards.

Revenue from plays alone was up 6 percent to 125 million pounds, and attendance was up 9 percent to 4.11 million. SOLT attributed the rise to West End productions such as “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night” starring actor Mark Rylance, and of writer Nick Payne’s “Constellations.”

“While sales and attendances did drop during the summer Olympic weeks,” SOLT said in a release, “the overall growth during 2012 can be attributed to a very strong first half of the year and good sales during the autumn weeks.”

Last year, musicals grossed 322 million pounds, a 2 percent drop on 2011. Attendance was down 3 percent.

Other types of performances -- such as opera, dance, performance pieces and entertainment -- registered a 1 percent increase in revenue to 82.5 million pounds, while attendance declined 2 percent there.

In terms of value-added tax receipts for the U.K. government, London theater generated 88.3 million pounds, SOLT said.

The Olympics had an adverse effect because venues closed on the night of the opening ceremonies and fewer shows were programmed in August when the games were in full swing.

The Olivier Awards, the London theater’s equivalent of the Oscars, will be held at the Royal Opera House on April 28.

Muse highlights include Martin Gayford on art, Scott Reyburn on the art market and Craig Seligman on books.

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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