Friday, December 14, 2007

Sorkin "No Tracy Letts"

Sorkin "No Tracy Letts"

After last week's rapid-fire round robin of five Broadway openings -- four of which were placed on fast forward to make up for lost time in the wake of the stagehands strike -- Tracy Letts' August: Osage County is clearly the major winner.

According to New York Post's Michael Riedel, the 3+ hour play on dysfunction took in a whopping $600,000 in advance ticket sales the day after the near unanimity of critical praise, and it's had a daily advance take of around $200,000 per day ever since.

Riedel notes that coming out on the short end of the stick is Aaron Sorkin's prefab play The Farnsworth Invention, which received the least favorable reviews of any show opening last week. To quote Riedel, Sorkin (pictured left) is "no Tracy Letts" (pictured right). Since opening, the show has earned an advance of about $50,000 per day. Riedel says that castmembers have already been advised that unless business picks up, the show will shutter.

Yet you'd never know that the shows were in different leagues from looking at last week's box office totals. Capacity was about the same, with August at 51.9% versus Farnsworth at 50.8%. August earned $327,133, while its next door neighbor to the east took in $267,480. Tables were slightly turned in the per ticket average with Farnworth outshining August $65.54 to $54.81.

Expect that last figure to flip next week.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for August: Osage County tickets.
Click here for The Farnsworth Invention tickets.
Related Stories:
More Than One Critic Letts August Esteem Show (December 5, 2007)
Did Critics Enjoy Sorkin's Invention? (December 4, 2007)
The Farnsworth Invention (The SOB Review) (December 4, 2007)
August: Osage County (The SOB Review) (August 19, 2007)

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At 14 December, 2007, Blogger SarahB said...

But Steve, you argue that capacity was about the same. I submit, this is not completely true. The Music Box for Farnsworth has a total capacity of 1009 seats and the Imperial for August has 1443 seats. So, that means August had an average of 748 seats filled, while Farnsworth had only an average of 512 seats filled. I have heard mixed reviews on Farnsworth - great first act, second act a real let down. I might see it in the New Year on a deeply discounted ticket. Meanwhile, I'll go to August again and again, no matter the cost.

At 14 December, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah, You're absolutely correct. The Imperial is a much larger house than the beautiful little jewel known as the Music Box. So it does in fact take much more to fill it up.

And the first act of Farnsworth is much better than the second.

At 14 December, 2007, Blogger Esther said...

I was just surprised that they were both playing to about 50 percent. I guess it shows what a tough hurdle a straight play has to surmount on Broadway. It seems like the straight plays are competing for a very small slice of the pie.

Every once in awhile, I check to see which shows are being recommended, what people are seeing, and it's almost always musicals that have been around for awhile.

Part of it is that the tourists who make up such a big chunk of the Broadway audience tend to be a lot of families with young children or teenagers.

The other big demographic seems to be groups of women, either friends or mothers and grown daughters, and I think "August: Osage County" would be perfect for them - meaningful and thought provoking, funny and incredibly entertaining.

I guess people have heard of Legally Blonde and Young Frankenstein and Drowsy Chaperone, and that's what they gravitate toward. I guess if you're only going to one or two shows a year, you want them to be light and uplifting. But there's nothing more compelling, nothing that will stay with you longer, than "August: Osage County."

And there are so many potentially terrific plays coming up in the next six months, it'll be interesting to see how they do, whether they find an audience or just cancel each other out.

At 15 December, 2007, Anonymous Richard said...

I will be seeing August for the third time. I would like to get my money back on that BORE FEST Farnsworth invention.


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