Box Office numbers have been increasing over time, attendance not so much. The hits are bigger and pull in enormous amounts of money. But, and this is not a small but, this changes the experience of ‘going to the theatre.’ Audiences are laying out hundreds of dollars and because of scarcity are planning months in advance. Shows must be worthy of this expense of time and money. This may be the one show/event they attend in a given year. Often there is an occasion for this: birthdays, anniversaries etc.
Once upon a time, this may be a myth, when ticket prices weren’t so exorbitant there were more ‘frequent theatre-goers’. Audiences would take chances on shows; sometimes going to see a particular performance, a new playwright,interesting subject matter. Not all of these people have disappeared but you will more likely find them these days buying tickets at a discount,at the booth, thru TDF, joining a comp service — all so they can go more often.
This leaves shows that aren’t million dollar box office hits struggling to pay the bills. They may not do enough business to stay open, much less recoup. They may have a star turn performance, or some really wonderful moments. They fill up, if they fill up, on discount tickets and TDF.
No producer wants to be in this position.