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SOLT reports record box office figures for 2013

Shows including ''The Book of Mormon'' and ''Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'' helped lift overall attendances at SOLT's 52 venues to 14.5 million

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Broadway import The Book of Mormon helped boost average ticket sales
© Johan Persson

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has published its 2013 Box Office figures, showing record ticket revenue and attendances.

Overall attendances at SOLT's 52 represented venues increased 4% to 14.5m and gross sales of £585.5m were up 11% compared to 2012.

This was thanks largely to average seat capacity jumping to 72.7% (increased from 69.21% in 2012).

Despite slightly fewer performances than the previous year, almost 600,000 more people attended theatre in 2013 at an average ticket price of £40.14 (up from £37.86 in 2012).

According to SOLT's press release, "Greater parity between price asked and price paid also suggests increased demand and a reduction in discounting, both evidence of the growing popularity of London theatre."

Sales were boosted by major new musicals including WhatsOnStage Award-nominated productions The Book of Mormon (which has played to 100% capacity), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Commitments and Once at the Phoenix Theatre. These productions helped push attendances at musicals up 3% to 8.2m.

Plays also had another strong year, with highlights including the Michael Grandage Company Season at the Noël Coward, The Audience starring Helen Mirren at the Gielgud, and a sold-out Othello at the National, which marked its 50th anniversary.

The Almeida's acclaimed productions of Ghosts and Chimerica both enjoyed West End runs, and there was continued success for long-running transfers such as One Man, Two Guvnors and Matilda The Musical.

Elsewhere, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre's 2013 season was the most successful ever with visitors totalling 167,613 (25,483 more than the previous record).

Advance ticket sales also increased, by an average of 21% across the board. Despite fears of the impact of the Apollo Theatre ceiling collapse on audience confidence, advance sales peaked at over £70m in December.

Mark Rubinstein, president of SOLT, said: "These figures pay testament to the quality, vibrancy and enduring popularity of the London stage, which, despite a difficult economic climate, continues to pull in the crowds thanks to the world-class entertainment on offer and inclusive pricing structures. With the combined Box Office advance sales also reaching new heights in December, we are looking forward to another year of success stories for our theatres in 2014."