Overall, sales increased by 0.27% to £529.7m, with audiences up 0.56% to 13.99 million on 2011′s totals.
Solt president Mark Rubinstein said he was “delighted” there had been growth in sales for the ninth year running.
Announcing the figures at the Royal Opera House today, he admitted there had been a sense of “trepidation” about the impact of the Olympics.
Attendances: 13,992,773 (2012) 13,915,185 (2011)
• Gross box office revenue: £529,787,692 (2012) £528,375,874 (2011)
• Average number of theatres open: 45 (2012) 45 (2011)
• Number of performances: 18,448 (2012) 18,061 (2011)
• New productions: 305 (2012) 256 (2011)
• Average ticket price: £37.86 (2012) £37.97 (2011)
(Solt) “The Olympics did take a bite out of the business. There were messages about travel and transport that the society worked very hard to correct and made sure people felt comfortable about coming into the West End.
At a time when we are hearing about a hard economic climate and retail names falling, for the society to be able to announce this is an astounding achievement.
While sales and attendances dropped during the Olympic weeks, Solt attributed the overall growth during 2012 to “a very strong first half of the year and good autumn sales”.
Speaking on BBC News Rubenstein partly attributed the strong sales in tickets to the start of the Michael Grandage season at the Noel Coward theatre and the continued popularity of such West End transfers as One Man, Two Guvnors and Matilda the Musical.
It is fantastic that plays had a strong year, with audiences up 9% on 2011, although musicals saw attendances drop by 3% over the same period.
Particularly strong plays included the Shakespeare’s Globe productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night at the Apollo Theatre, both starring Mark Rylance, of which Solt states there were “queues around the block“.
Solt also reported that advance sales “grew considerably” in the last three months of 2012, “showing huge audience confidence in the current productions and anticipation for the new shows that are to open in 2013″. Doubtless The Bodyguard will have been a significant attraction along with the forthcoming West End productions of The Book of Mormon and Once and a musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – based, like Matilda The Musical, on a Roald Dahl work.
The Solt figures relate to the 52 major theatres, both commercial and grant-aided, in central London.
Our own London theatre ticket sales by volume and revenue at www.lastminutetheatretickets.com shows a strong emphasis on musicals but this isn’t really surprising as most venues with musicals showing are generally speaking much larger than those venues with plays showing. There is also no doubt that many theatregoers will visit more than one show in a visit to London, and quite often an Off-West End show will be a part of their ‘theatre visit’. It would be interesting to see figures for London West End theatre audiences that also take into account Off-West End.
Our own top twenty selling shows in 2012: Lion King, We Will Rock You, Les Miserables, Thriller – Live, Phantom Of The Opera, Wicked, Billy Elliot, Shrek The Musical, Jersey Boys, Chicago, Wizard Of Oz, Matilda The Musical, Blood Brothers, Mamma Mia, War Horse, Stomp, Dreamboats, Ghost, Legally Blonde, Rock Of Ages and The 39 Steps.
BUT… for ALL of the shows that have been in staged in London during 2012 – thank you!
Live TV coverage
Solt has also announced that this year’s Olivier Awards will be televised on a mainstream TV channel for the first time in a decade. Thankfully removing the somewhat ‘problematical’ Red Button that resulted from the BBC’s broadcast from last year. Up to 2003, the awards had been shown on BBC Two.
Sheridan Smith, is a back-to-back Olivier-winner for her work in the musical Legally Blonde and Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path. BBC Radio 2 will broadcast live coverage of the ceremony.
Voting has now begun for the the Olivier Radio 2 Audience Award for the most popular show – the only Olivier Award decided by members of the public.
In 2012, Matilda the Musical set a new record by winning a total of seven trophies. Who will be your choice for this year’s awards?
You can buy tickets for the Olivier Awards at www.olivierawards.com
Tuesday 29th January 2013