Average cost of a Broadway ticket passes $100 for the first time
At June 8's Tony Awards ceremony in New York, many of Broadway's biggest stars — and some of Hollywood's, too — were on hand to tout the theater community's achievements from the 2013-14 season, which ended in May.
One milestone that didn't get mentioned on television in front of millions of potential theatergoers: the new high in ticket prices.
The average ticket price for a show on the Great White Way this season passed the $100 mark for the first time.
Though the best seats on Broadway topped $100 years ago, many consumers have been able to find reasonably priced tickets at well below the highest prices listed by the most popular shows.
However, this season, theatergoers in New York forked over an average of $103.88 per ticket, up 5.5 percent from $98.42 last season, according to figures from the Broadway League, a nonprofit industry association and one of the organizers of the Tonys.
For the past five seasons, the average price of a Broadway ticket has climbed 34 percent. The price of a movie ticket nationwide rose 10.8 percent in roughly the same period from 2008 to 2013, according to data from the National Association of Theatre Owners.
“I think there's no question that rising prices on Broadway are problematic,” says Stephen Hendel, a producer whose credits include the current “After Midnight,” which was nominated for new musical, as well as the recent “Fela!” and “American Idiot.”
“At some point, Broadway shows run the risk of pricing tickets beyond the capacity of many potential audiences.”
Industry leaders say the upward pressure on prices is the result of a complex set of factors that includes not only the rising costs associated with producing theater in New York, but also dynamic ticket pricing, which allows producers to charge premium prices for desirable seats and discounts for others.
“I understand a production has responsibilities to investors to pay them back,” says Victoria Bailey, executive director of New York's Theatre Development Fund. But, she adds, talks with box-office workers have convinced her that consumer sticker shock is real: “I didn't hear about that three years ago.”
The most expensive tickets on Broadway usually come attached to blockbuster musicals. “The Book of Mormon” charges as much as $477 for its best seats, while tickets for “Kinky Boots” and “Wicked” top out at $349 and $300, respectively.
Plays aren't immune to the pricing trend, especially when it comes to celebrity casting. The revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which ends June 15 and stars Denzel Washington, is commanding a top price of $348. The recent run of “Betrayal,” starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, saw seats go for as much as $423.
But only one in five Broadway shows breaks even, and those that do take an average of two years to show a profit, according to the Broadway League. Twenty-five years ago, it took an average of six months for a hit show to recoup its cost.
David Ng is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers not limiting themselves in free agency
- Coyotes proliferate despite year-round hunting
- Rossi: Pirates must pay for Mr. Right
- Under Rutherford, it’s been a sizeable shakeup for Penguins
- Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
- Winnik impresses Penguins in first workout
- Against Wake Forest, Pitt looks to reverse fortunes on road
- Experts call for deer hunters to step up game
- Blaze rips through Salem house
- Baby Penguins notebook: Goalie Murray on historic run of success
- Big names become available this week via free agency; will Steelers be tempted?