Summary of SOLT Box Office Data Report 2010

London Theatre Attendances and Revenues

Total annual ticket sales, box office receipts, and other useful statistics for recent years are shown in these two downloadable files.

This annual report, written by Richard Andrews for SOLT, analyses a wide range of box office data from West End venues in 2010. A full copy of the report can be purchased. To do so, please visit the publications page.

  • Despite the recession, a General Election, World Cup, strikes, volcanic ash and snow, 2010 was another record-breaking year for London theatre with Box office receipts at an all time high at £512,331,808.
  • The number of attendances to West End productions in 2010 was 14,152,230, the second highest ever recorded.
  • Throughout 2010 attendances were generally above the previous three years average. January until Easter saw attendance numbers rise above the previous record-breaking year, but they were then down until the end of July due to the exploding volcano, General Election, Euro crisis and World Cup. August and September saw numbers rise again, but attendances plummeted in November and December with the country's inability to deal with the snow and frost.
  • Major new musicals are usually responsible for a large percentage of ticket sales but they were scarce in 2010 with only Legally Blonde The Musical, Love Never Dies, Sweet Charity, Flashdance and Fela! opening. This meant the total advance booking revenues held by box offices in 2010 were mostly below those in 2009, but they still remained at historically high levels.
  • The big driver behind the business in 2010 was major name actors in plays. These included Keira Knightley and Damien Lewis in The Misanthrope, Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen in Private Lives, David Suchet and Zoë Wannamaker in All My Sons, Amanda Drew and Tim Piggott-Smith in Enron, Mark Rylance and Mackenzie Crook in Jerusalem, and Martin Freeman and Sophie Thompson in Clybourne Park. The end of the year was bought to a rousing conclusion with Derek Jacobi appearing in King Lear and Black Watch returning to the Barbican.
  • Numbers of inbound tourists arriving to the UK fell by 1% from 2009 but the number of overseas visitors to London rose by almost 3%.
  • The seventh Get Into London Theatre (GILT) campaign ran from 1 January to 26 March, running six weeks longer than in 2009. By the end of the promotion 66,504 tickets had been sold, producing revenue of £1,907,005.
  • The 13th Kids Week promotion, which is designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience, ran from 13 August to 3 September and resulted in 68, 121 tickets being sold, producing revenue in excess of £1,828,180.

Summary of Attendance Chart 1986-2010

  • The graph shows that the number of attendances to the West End has increased during this 24-year period.
  • 1986 had the lowest number of attendances with 10,236,362
  • 2009 had the highest number of attendances with 14,257,922 and 2010 had the second highest with 14,152,230.
  • 17 of the 23 years in the sample recorded a percentage increase on the preceding year.
  • 2001 (the year of the 11 September attacks in New York) recorded a 1.6% increase in attendance compared to 2000. (2002, which may have also been expected to suffer after 9/11, also recorded a percentage increase of 2.8% on 2001.)
  • 2005 (the year of the London bombings) recorded an increase of 2.4% on 2004
  • The year which saw the biggest percentage increase in attendances is 2007, which saw an increase of 10.4%.
  • The year that saw the biggest percentage drop in attendances is 1996 when, after the surge of 1995, numbers fell by 6.4%.
  • Download the attendance revenue graph below. This file is in PDF format and will open in a new browser window.

Key points from 1986-2010 Attendance tables

Number of theatres open:

  • Since 1986, the average number of theatres open increased to a high of 46 in 2010.
  • During the 25-year period, the average number of theatres open has vacillated between this high of 46 and a low of 39 recorded both in 1997 and 1991.
  • The average number of theatres open hasn't fallen below 42 since 1998.

Number of performances:

  • 2010 recorded 18,615 West End performances, the highest number in the sample period.
  • 1991 recorded 15,508 West End performances, the lowest number in the sample period.

Number of new productions:

  • 2010 recorded 264 new productions, the highest number in the sample period.
  • 1996 recorded 186 new productions, the lowest number in the sample period.

Download the attendance revenue graph below. This file is in PDF format and will open in a new browser window.

SOLT Annual Attendances and Revenue Table