The holidays mean big money for Broadway producers. This season, 19 of the current 26 shows broke the $1 million mark for the week with almost 30,000 more people attending shows than last Christmas. The Broadway League says the shows pulled in $40,993,950 for the week ending Sunday, Dec. 28, better than the same week last year when 30 shows attracted $38,783,854. Also, attendance is on the rise from 290,386 in 2013 to 318,721 this year. The mild New York winter weather and Christmas falling on a Thursday may all be helpful factors in the increase in attendance. With a boost in celebrity casting in Broadway shows being another reason for people attending the theater, performances sans celebrities are holding their own. Despite having Hugh Jackman in "The River," Bradley Cooper in "The Elephant Man" and Sting in "The Last Ship" all onstage toward the end of the year, and "The Book of Mormon" hardly slowing down at all this year, an old favorite was once again king of Broadway in 2014. Disney's "The Lion King" set a weekly record at the Minskoff Theatre with a nine-performance haul of $2,885,321. The Disney favorite remains Broadway's highest-grossing show of the year for the second time in a row, despite six other shows having higher average ticket prices.
Casting celebrities in Broadway plays may not be a new idea, but it is definitely a booming industry in recent times. With star like Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, James Franco and other A-listers on stage, theaters have been spending ever more time and money cracking down on flash-happy guests, hecklers and a sea of fans at the stage door. This increase is now a nightly, traffic-blocking headache for security and police that “only used to happen with, say, [Richard] Burton and [Elizabeth] Taylor,” said longtime theater director Gregory Mosher, in an interview with "The Wall Street Journal." "The River," a solemn play starring Jackman, draws so many star-struck, picture-snapping attendees that the production resorted to sending out an understudy before the show to remind them to turn off their phones. In November, Time Out New York published a guide on what not to do at the show, including “Applaud Hugh’s entrance” and “Clap after every scene.” Similarly, laughter during serious moments occurred during Franco’s run in "Of Mice and Men," changing the feel of the Depression-era drama.