Audience Snapshot: Four Years After Shutdown, a Mixed Recovery

It was four years ago — on March 12, 2020 — that the coronavirus brought the curtain down on Broadway for what was initially supposed to be a monthlong shutdown, but which wound up lasting a year and a half.

The pandemic brought live events and big gatherings to a halt, silencing orchestras, shutting museums and movie theaters and leaving sports teams playing to empty stadiums dotted with cardboard cutouts.

Now, four years later, audiences are coming back, but the recovery has been uneven. Here is a snapshot of where things stand now:

Broadway audiences are still down 17 percent from prepandemic levels.

On Broadway, overall attendance is still down about 17 percent: 9.3 million seats have been filled in the current season as of March 3, down from 11.1 million at the same point in 2020. Box office grosses are down, too: Broadway shows have grossed $1.2 billion so far this season, 14 percent below the level in early March of 2020.

Broadway has always had more flops than successes, and the post-pandemic period has been challenging for producers and investors, especially those involved in new musicals. Three pop productions that have opened since the pandemic — “Six,” about the wives of King Henry VIII, “MJ,” about Michael Jackson and “& Juliet,” which imagines an alternate history for Shakespeare’s tragic heroine — are ongoing hits, but far more musicals have flamed out. The industry is looking with some trepidation toward next month, when a large crop of new shows is set to open.

Many nonprofit theaters around the country are also struggling — attracting fewer subscribers and producing fewer shows — and some have closed. One bright spot has been the touring Broadway market, which has been booming.

— Michael Paulson

Sales for the biggest pop concerts are up 65 percent.

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour was the biggest tour of the year.Credit…Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for The New York Times

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