Thursday, September 3, 2009

In the Good Old Summertime

Posted by Bruce Miller
The books are now closed on the Summer of 09, and the good news is that our recent hit productions of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Driving Miss Daisy and Fully Committed broke last year’s records, adding up to Barksdale Theatre’s selling-est summer ever!

If you look only at the months of June, July and August, the Summer of 08 was the previous box office winner. In Summer 08 we sold or comped a total of 13,500 tickets, grossing $338,218. The box office breakdown looked like this: Guys and Dolls at the Empire (10,922 tickets, $270,260), Shirley Valentine at the Tavern (2,578 tickets, $67,958).

This past summer, Thoroughly Modern Millie never caught fire the way Guys and Dolls did the summer before. We know our audience LOVED Millie (as did the critics), so we’re guessing that sales were sluggish due to:
a. the economy
b. lower title recognition
c. our decision to compete with ourselves by remounting Driving Miss Daisy at Willow Lawn.

When all was said and done, the Millie box office released 7,698 tickets for a total revenue figure of $190,724, nearly $80 K short of the Guys total.
Fortunately, even as sales sagged a bit in the early summer at the Empire, Fully Committed proceeded to knock it out of the park in the late summer at Hanover Tavern. Somewhere in mid-July, you could almost feel consumer confidence begin to turn a corner. The Fully Committed box office released 4,181 tickets and brought in $107,553 in revenue—nearly $40,000 more than Shirley Valentine did at Hanover Tavern the summer before.

Just as we had hoped, it was dear Miss Daisy who put us over the top. Daisy pulled off an impressive performance at Willow Lawn, especially taking into account that it was a revival of a hit Tavern production that did very well in Hanover the previous fall. A total of 2,915 ticket holders saw Daisy, generating $63,955 in revenue. There was no comparable show or slot in the 2008 line-up, and so the addition of this third show made it possible to break last summer’s record.
All told, in Summer 09, we sold or comped a total of 14,794 tickets and grossed $362,232—an approximate $24,000 increase over Summer 08.

So, how do things look for Summer 2010? With the economy starting to improve, and three GREAT productions in the works (The Sound of Music in the Empire, On Golden Pond at Hanover Tavern, and a revival of Crowns starting at the Gottwald Playhouse and then transferring to Barksdale Willow Lawn), we have every reason to be optimistic.

Who knows? Maybe 2010 will be the summer we break $400 thousand.

Thank you for continuing to help us keep Barksdale growing and going strong. I hope you will buy your subscriptions, group sales and single tickets soon, if you haven’t already. We need you. I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

--Bruce Miller

PS – Revenues that came in during the first couple weeks in June for the end of the run of I Ought to Be in Pictures are added into our Spring box office tallies, and therefore not included here.

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