Last updated 12/1
Last season, 12.8 million people attended a Broadway show. To put that figure into perspective, more people went to see plays and musicals in New York than attended baseball and football games for our four major teams. And when you consider the seasons that both the Mets and Yankees have had this year, Broadway seems to be the only entity in town that is consistently hitting home runs.
What makes a popular show? Well, there are a few factors, but basically–since commercial theater is a business–it’s supply/demand economics. A show in a big theater naturally has the potential to make more money than a show in a smaller theater. However, tickets to a popular show in a smaller house can become a hotter commodity due to the scarcity of seats. This list represents a mixture of shows with the highest percentage of seats sold and top-grossers.
So, if you’re looking for a barometer that will tell you which shows are buzzworthy fodder for water cooler chatter and tough tickets to get, here’s the list.
1. The Lion King
The king of the jungle is also the king of the box office. And who would have ever thought that after 25 years, the stage adaptation of Disney’s animated film loosely based on Hamlet would still be filling the theater? Night after night, its eye-popping stagecraft and timeless songs continue to capture the imagination of a new generation of theatergoers.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $2,912,593
99.07% seats sold
The musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz that asks the question, “are all bad reputations earned,” has defied gravity and box office expectations at the cavernous Gershwin Theater, where it has been breaking box office records for almost 20 years.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $2,573,538
96.96% seats sold
The story of ten dollar bill founding father Alexander Hamilton brought to new life in a thrilling spin on the immigrant experience. Since opening in 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning juggernaut has been packing the house at the Richard Rodgers Theater nightly, where it’s been turning hip-hop enthusiasts into American History nerds and vice versa.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $2,293,884
101.17% seats sold
4. Merrily We Roll Along
Stephen Sondheim’s beloved flop from 1981 about friendship and the costs of moral compromise is proving to be a big hit with audiences four decades later thanks to the star power of leading cast members Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Tony Award-winner Lindsay Mendez.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $2,046,288
100% seats sold
5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Grammy Award-winner Josh Groban, Tony Award-winner Analeigh Ashford, a talented ensemble, and a 26-piece orchestra bring Stephen Sondheim’s murderous musical tale to life each night in this stunning new revival.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $2,027,611
100.24% seats sold
6. MJ The Musical
A first-rate creative team took 41 songs from Michael Jackson’s discography and spun them into a compelling narrative about the King of Pop as he prepared for his famed 1992 Dangerous tour.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $1,912,964
97.96% seats sold
What would you do if you had three wishes? A perfect marriage of magic and music makes this stage adaptation of Disney’s 1991 animated film the ideal show to introduce new theatergoers into a whole new world of Broadway.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $1,881,455
95.53% seats sold
8. Back to the Future: The Musical
Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and a flying DeLorean time machine make this musical adaptation of the popular 1984 movie classic a must for Gen Xers.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $1,814,565
97.47% seats sold
9. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
The epic stage version of the continuation of J.K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter series continues to work box office magic as the most popular and highest-grossing non-musical currently running on Broadway.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $1,807,812
90.04% seats sold
10. & Juliet
& Juliet asks: what would happen next if Juliet didn’t end it all over Romeo? Get whisked away on a fabulous journey as she ditches her famous ending for a fresh beginning and a second chance at life and love—her way.
Gross for week ending 11/26 - $1,459,276
100.02% seats sold