The crisis in New York’s Broadway theater district, which has resumed performances after a year and half shut down due to the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19), continues. The New York Times (NYT) reported on the 17th that Broadway theaters were experiencing a record decline. According to the New York Times, in the first week of January, Broadway theaters occupied only 62% of the seats. This is the lowest figure since theater artists went on strike in 2003.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020 Broadway theater audience share reached 94%. The season’s year-end box office was also confirmed to have halved. It was estimated that at Christmas, the year-end and New Year’s holidays, the most visited by the public of the year, Broadway theaters earned $40 million (about 47.7 billion won) in revenue. This is less than half of the $99 million (about 118 billion won) recorded in the same period before COVID-19. There are popular musicals that fill the audience, but the NYT explains that the box office is no longer what it used to be.
In the case of Hamilton, which is currently the most popular on Broadway, the price of premium seats before Corona 19 was as high as $847 (about 1,010,000 won) but has recently dropped to $299 (about 350,000 won). The price is said to have been adjusted to reflect audience demand. As a result, more and more theaters are offering a medicinal prescription for shortened performance schedules. A significant portion of the production cost, including remuneration of actors, performers and staff, is invested every time a play is staged, but due to shrinking audiences, it is impossible to make ends meet. Recently, performances of six pieces, including “Don’t Be Proud,” “Diana,” and “Jagged Little Feel,” ended ahead of schedule.
In addition, it was decided to resume performances from June after the temporary suspension of performances of three works, including “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “A Girl from the North”. Accordingly, by the end of this month, the number of theaters with lights on the stage will be reduced to 19 of the 41 theaters on Broadway. “This is the worst box office I’ve ever seen,” said Jack Birtle, president of the Zoo Jamson Theatre, which operates five theaters on Broadway.