But the show has a built-in challenge: it is being staged, and sold, as a two-parter, generally seen two nights in a row or in a matinee-plus-evening marathon. That means cost is a hurdle for some — to see both parts, you have to buy two tickets — while for others, the running time is daunting — Part 1 is 2 hours and 40 minutes, and Part 2 is 2 hours and 35 minutes.
“It’s a big time commitment, and for people who don’t go to theater all the time it seems like a really big time commitment,” said Victoria Bailey, the executive director of the Theater Development Fund. “And there’s a perception that Broadway is really expensive, so unless you’re reaching people who want to go and telling them that there’s a price point that is manageable, there are people who assume ‘I can’t afford that.’”
The producers, who would answer questions only in writing, insist that they are not worried. Their weekly grosses are now near their weekly running costs, but they should rise over the coming weeks as Thanksgiving and the Christmas season bring more tourists to town.
“Given the two-part nature of this unique theater production, we always anticipated that there would be a time when the sales would level off, and we have now settled into a viable business-as-usual weekly sales pattern, if ‘business as usual’ is ever something that’s possible to say in the theater,” the lead producers, who include Rowling as well as Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender, said in a statement. “Acknowledging that there is no road map for producing an open-ended run of a two-part play in NYC, we continue to learn all we can about positioning this remarkable and unique event in this particular market.”
One step the producers have taken is to cut prices, and they have done so effectively enough that the 1,622-seat Lyric Theater has remained fully sold out, week after week. The play is now a relative bargain — a ticket to one of the parts costs less, on average, than all but two shows currently running on Broadway.
“They’re making smart choices by varying prices and maintaining capacity,” said Mike Rafael, a ticketing analyst, who said the important question now is when and whether the “Cursed Child” grosses, which were above $2 million a week through most of last year but have fallen to about $1 million a week this fall, will level off. “I know people are concerned about the declines, but I’m more interested in how they settle.”
Producers redesigned the play’s marketing material to add an image of Harry Potter with a lightning bolt logo that has long been used to promote Potter books and films. They also added Rowling’s name, making it clear that she is behind the stage story.