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Billy Elliot
Alastair Muir

Last year was a record-breaker for London theatre (again)

Andrzej Lukowski

While Broadway theatres have an almost obsessive dedication to keeping the world at large informed of their weekly box office grosses, in London we’re a lot more circumspect. But one day a year box office nerds get to celebrate, as the Society of London Theatre (Solt) hits us with a bunch of stats on how London’s major theatres fared financially over the preceding 365 days. 

So this is how London’s major theatres did last year: 

Gross revenue of £644,719,639, up 1.7 percent compared to 2015

Sales generated VAT receipts for the Treasury of £107,453,273

Attendances of 14,328,121 (down 2.8 percent year on year but number of performances down 5.95 percent on 2015)

76.7 percent of available seats filled, up 4.1 percent compared to 2015 and a new record

Weekly attendance peaked w/c December 26 2016 at 439,103, a new record

The average ticket price was £45, an increase of 4.68 percent (which Solt have ascribed to a decrease in discounting)

What does all this MEAN?

Well, 2016 was another pretty good year – you’d have to go back to 2003 to find a year when gross revenue dropped, and though a 1.7 percent increase is only modest, it beats inflation of 1.2 percent.

The most striking statistic is that average attendance has hit record levels but there were 5.95 percent fewer performances than in 2015. That’s basically because theatres spent a lot of time shut in 2016: some just didn’t have a show on for a bit, while big-hitter ‘Billy Elliot’ (pictured) closed in April 2016, leaving the 1,550-seat Victoria Palace Theatre empty while it’s refurbished for the blockbuster ‘Hamilton’, which doesn’t start performances until November 21 this year. So ‘Hamilton’ is unlikely to significantly boost the the 2017 stats (because, although sold out, it’s barely on this year) but will probably put a rocket under the 2018 ones (it’s already sold out until the end of June 2018).

See you same time next year for more thrilling West End stats!

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