The Piano Lesson led the pack of Broadway’s recent arrivals at the box office last week, with the August Wilson revival starring Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington and Danielle Brooks grossing $795,306 for its first seven performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Coming in a close second, in terms of gross receipts, was Leopoldstadt, the Tom Stoppard play previewing at the Longacre, taking $753,157 for seven performances.
The newcomers added to Broadway’s overall tally of $26,367,421 for the week ending Sept. 25, a jump of about 6% from the previous week. Attendance was up the same percentage, to 214,085, reflecting a strong 93% of available seats filled.
Other productions in previews, and playing seven performances, included 1776, the non-profit Roundabout’s all-female/transgender/nonbinary revival of the classic musical, grossing $342,777 for seven performances; and Cost of Living, the non-prof Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of the Martyna Majok’s play, taking in $137,796. Death of a Salesman, with six previews at the Hudson, grossed $413,428.
All five of the recent arrivals played to houses in the vicinity of 80% full, give or take, though average ticket prices varied widely, from $38.14 for Cost of Living to $134.34 for The Piano Lesson.
Also worth nothing: Funny Girl, with Lea Michele back to her full schedule, was a near sell-out, grossing $1,640,370 and filling 98% of seats.
Over at the Majestic, all seats were filled for The Phantom of the Opera, an influx no doubt spurred by the producers’ recent decision to close the long-running musical in February 18 after 35 years. The production grossed a whopping $1,205,364 last week.
Other shows at 100% capacity – or coming close with at least 98% of seats filled – were Come From Away (closing Oct. 2); Hadestown, MJ, Moulin Rouge!, Six, The Book of Mormon and Funny Girl.
Season to date, Broadway has grossed $501,145,098, with total attendance of 3,917,076 at about 87% of capacity.
The 24 productions reporting figures on Broadway last week were 1776, Aladdin, Beetlejuice, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Come From Away, Cost of Living, Death of a Salesman, Funny Girl, Hadestown, Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Into the Woods, The Kite Runner, Leopoldstadt, The Lion King, The Music Man, MJ, Moulin Rouge!, The Phantom of the Opera, The Piano Lesson, Six, A Strange Loop and Wicked.
All figures courtesy of the Broadway League.
‘A Little Life’: James Norton To Star In West End Adaptation Of Hanya Yanagihara Bestseller
James Norton has been set to lead the West End stage adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel A Little Life. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2015, the emotional story follows four college friends in New York City. Ivo van Hove (Network, Hedda Gabler) is directing the 12-week run at the Harold Pinter Theatre which begins on March 25.
Also starring are Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson, Omari Douglas (It’s A Sin), Zach Wyatt (The Witcher), Elliot Cowan (The Crown), Zubin Varla (Tammy Faye), Nathalie Armin (Force Majeure) and Emilio Doorgasingh (The Kite Runner).
The quartet of friends is made up of aspiring actor Willem (Thompson), successful architect Malcolm (Wyatt), struggling artist JB (Douglas) and prodigious lawyer Jude (Norton). As ambition, addiction and pride threaten to pull the group apart, they always find themselves bound by their love for Jude and the mysteries of his past. But when those secrets come to light, they finally learn that to know Jude St Francis is to understand the limitless potential of love in the face of life.
This will be the English-language premiere of the play; van Hove previously staged it in Dutch.
“The book is a kind of a mystery, because it became a huge bestseller,” van Hove told BBC News. “It’s a little bit strange because it talks about cruel things, about a traumatic experience that haunts somebody for the rest of his life.” He also told the BBC that the runtime will be shortened to three hours and 40 minutes.
Sales of the novel were modest following its publication, but word of mouth spurred it to over 2.5 million copies. Ticket sales for the Harold Pinter production are on sale from today.
Sam Mendes Casts Johnny Flynn, Tuppence Middleton & Mark Gatiss As Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor & John Gielgud In Hot New Play
EXCLUSIVE: Sam Mendes has picked Johnny Flynn (Emma, Beast), Tuppence Middleton (Downton Abbey, Mank) and Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss to portray legendary stars Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and John Gielgud in The Motive and the Cue, a mouth-watering new play by Jack Thorne that explores how acting giants Burton and Gielgud staged Hamlet on Broadway in 1964.
Burton, newly wed to Taylor after their affair on the set of epic film Cleopatra, signed on to play the Danish prince in a fabled production directed by Gielgud in New York.
On opening night in April, 1964, scores of police hemmed in crowds who were as eager to catch a glimpse of Taylor entering the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre as they were to see her husband as the depressed Dane.
Oscar-, Tony- and Olivier-winning Mendes will direct The Motive and the Cue at London’s National Theatre where it will open at the NT’s Lyttelton Theatre in May, 2023. Mendes secured Flynn to play Burton and Gatiss to take on Gielgud several months ago, but his search for an actress to portray Taylor was interrupted due to him launching his acclaimed new film Empire of Light at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals.
Taylor was the biggest movie star in the world in 1964, said Caro Newling, who founded Neal Street Productions with Pippa Harris and Mendes. “She was a huge star and so were Burton and Gielgud,” Newling told us.
Mendes and Newling originated the project during lockdown with Newling later turning detective to track down out-of-print books, and archive material about the 1964 Hamlet. Neal Street, the All3Media-owned indie founded nearly 20 years ago, then commissioned Thorne, writer of His Dark Materials and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, to pen The Motive and the Cue — its title is taken from a passage in a soliloquy in Hamlet. The play’s been developed and co-produced by the National Theatre and Neal Street Productions.
Flynn, adept on stage as he is on screen, was marvelous in the original Royal Court and West End productions of Martin McDonagh’s play Hangmen. “This feels like a beautiful story to tell now about why we tell stories and why we revisit certain stories,” Flynn told Deadline in a statement regarding The Motive and the Cue.
Gatiss, who won an Olivier Best Supporting Actor trophy for his role in Patrick Marber’s National Theatre adaptation of Turgenev’s poignant comedy Three Days in the Country, said he was thrilled to be part of “this terrific company” and “not a little over-awed to be playing Sir John. The play’s the thing, though as someone once said!”
The actor praised Thorne’s “lovely, moving and sensitive piece, which we can’t wait to bring to the National.”
Middleton, recently seen in ITV series Our House and in Downton Abbey: A New Era, has performed in two Off-West End theater productions: The One and The Living Room. The actress will next be seen in feature, The Lord of Misrule. In comments for us, issued through the National, Middleton said that she’s “delighted to be portraying the iconic Elizabeth Taylor,” in her National Theatre debut.
Deadline broke the news of The Motive and the Cue heading to the National back in July and we’ve been keeping you up to date about the celebrated collaboration between the National Theatre and Neal Street Productions over the much garlanded play, The Lehman Trilogy, which is headed for London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre in January starring Michael Balogun, Hadley Fraser and Nigel Lindsay.
Allan Corduner, Ryan Ellsworth, Aysha Kala, Luke Norris, Michael Walters and Laurence Ubong Williams are also in The Motive and the Cue cast revealed by us today.
The play’s creative team includes: production design by Es Devlin; Katrina Lindsay, costume designer; Jon Clark, lighting design; composer Benjamin Kwasi Burrell; Paul Arditti, sound designer; and Luke Halls, video designer. Associate director is Zoe Ford Burnett.
Newling and Mendes discovered two books: Richard Sterne’s John Gielgud Directs Richard Burton in Hamlet and William Redfield’s Letters From an Actor, both tomes chronicled Gielgud’s dressed-down adaptation of Hamlet and the often differing views Gielgud and Burton had about the troubled Dane.
The underlying rights to both books were acquired by the production. It has emerged as one of next year’s most eagerly awaited new plays.
Disregard The Corporate Noise: Disney Will Dominate Thanksgiving Box Office With ‘Wakanda Forever’ & ‘Strange World’
Call it a holiday tradition as common as sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table, but Disney is going to rule the five-day holiday stretch again after wins in 2016 (Moana), 2017 (Coco), 2018 (Ralph Breaks the Internet), 2019 (Frozen 2) and last year (Encanto), as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s third weekend looks to do $40M over Wednesday-Sunday and Disney Animation’s Strange World hopes to squeeze out $30M+. All of this occurs as Bob Iger is re-installed as the CEO of Disney and the studio’s distribution czar Kareem Daniel exits.
That’s not exactly the best result for a Disney family film launching over the 5-day frame, a figure that’s under last year’s Encanto which did $40.5M. Part of the dilemma with Strange World is the fact that it’s original animation, which is also a tough sell. The movie follows a family of explorers, the Clades, as they venture into an uncharted, treacherous land alongside a motley crew which includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog and a slew of ravenous creatures.
While Disney has been criticized for not being woke enough, with Chapek running into his own imbroglio with the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the studio has fully embraced a LGBTQ+ plot point here with Strange World whereby character Ethan (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White), has a crush on another boy in the movie. Disney isn’t caving into any overseas pressure in certain territories to edit this content out, and as Nancy Tartaglione reported earlier today, the studio is taking a voluntary pass on more than 20 markets, where it won’t release Strange World, read Middle East, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, East Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya), West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana), Maldives, Nepal and Bangladesh. Strange World cost $135M before P&A and the pic currently counts a 72% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Disney is jettisoning the movie to Disney+ by Christmas time, which is not the case for Wakanda Forever, which has a longer theatrical window. While Strange World‘s marketing hasn’t included anything about the gay character, the pic’s talent has been very vocal about it on their press tour.
Strange World hits 4,000 theaters this Wednesday with previews starting at 6PM Tuesday. Pic’s theater count is comprised of 2,000 3D locations, 250+ PLF auditoriums and 100+ 4D/DBox screens. Wakanda Forever finaled its second weekend at $66.4M, -63% for a ten-day running total of $287.1M.
Also going after family audiences on Saturday at 2PM local time in 1,200 locations are paid sneak previews of Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Uni held sneak previews last year over Black Friday weekend for Sing 2.
Adult content fills out the rest of the competition, and has unfortunately been the case with several pieces of older counterprogramming this fall, it’s all single digits. If anything does a result in the double millions from Wednesday to Sunday, it’s like, ‘Wow’.
United Artists Releasing’s expansion of Luca Guadagnino’s cannibalism romance road movie Bones and All goes from five NYC and LA locations to 2,700 for what is an expected $7M-$9M take over 5 days. Women 18-34 were dominant this past weekend for the Timothee Chalamet movie, and that’s who is expected to buy tickets. Previews at 7PM tomorrow.
The wild card here on what could potentially steal a number of adults is Netflix’s one week sneak preview release of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The sequel is booked at 638 theaters and will only play one week, no matter how much money it makes before going dark and resurfacing on the OTT service on Dec. 23. As previously reported, all three major circuits for the first time have booked the Netflix tentpole — AMC, Regal and Cinemark, the latter having already played the streamer’s product. When Knives Out 2 hits the service, theaters can re-book the sequel again. No previews on Tuesday. Even through streamer isn’t reporting numbers a $6M-$8M 5-day forecast is estimated by rival sources. Netflix is spreading its holistic P&A out throughout from theatrical to the pic’s streaming drop with key spots bought on Sunday NFL, Yellowstone, SNL, The Walking Dead finale. iSpot estimates that Netflix has taken out about $4.3M in spots which have yielded 65M impressions which is about half of what Universal has already spent on The Fabelmans in its campaign to date. A shining 93% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes for the latest sequel from Rian Johnson and star Daniel Craig who returns as sleuth Benoit Blanc.
Sony has a distribution deal for Black Label Media’s Korean War Navy fighter pilot movie Devotion, which is looking at $7M-$8M at 3,400. Previews start tom’w at 2PM in 2,950 locations for this older skewing movie starring Jonathan Majors and Top Gun: Maverick‘s Glen Powell. Pic launched at TIFF and counts a current Rotten Tomatoes of 77% fresh.
Amblin/Universal’s Steven Spielberg autobiopic The Fabelmans goes wider in Wednesday in roughly 600, the outlook being in the single digits over the five days. Through its ten days of release at four theaters, the Pano Dano-Michelle Williams-Seth Rogen-Judd Hirsch-Gabriel LaBelle family drama counts close to $310K.
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