Fresno ‘Lion King’ run sets a Saroyan box-office record

The recent national tour run in Fresno of “The Lion King” earned more than $3 million at the box office during its recent 16-performance run, according to figures released Wednesday by Broadway in Fresno.

That translates to more than 35,000 tickets sold at the Saroyan Theatre.

Related story: Review: The weirdest ‘Lion King’ critique you’ll read on the savanna

To put the $3 million box-office take in perspective, if you divide the 16 performances by two to get a standard eight-show Broadway week, the Fresno production made more money in the same period than all but the top six shows on Broadway, according to Playbill. (On Broadway, “The Lion King” made $2.3 million in the week ending Dec. 9.)

Broadway in Fresno reports an estimated $9.8 million impact on on the Fresno area economy from travel, hotels, restaurants, parking and other businesses patronized by both theatergoers and production staff. A Touring Broadway League report found that, on average, “Broadway tours contribute an economic impact 3.27 times the gross ticket sales to the local metropolitan area’s economy.”

In a press release, Anne Francis, West Coast vice president for Broadway Across America, said: “It was a true delight to present the premiere engagement of THE LION KING in Fresno. We saw a great outpouring of enthusiasm and support from our patrons.”


My take: The box-office numbers aren’t any surprise. This one had record-breaker written all over it. It’s interesting how local media often touts the audience and economic impact of live sporting events — think of the number of words and broadcast minutes devoted to Fresno State football — but a powerhouse show like this has a big impact on the region.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Janice Noga

    Our grandson was thrilled to see The Lion King, as we were. We had seen the show in London and New York. I decided not to compair the previous shows, just enjoy every moment. I also loved watching our grandson be thoroughly intranced. It was the magic of Theatre !!!


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