London’s West End theatres have surpassed a record-breaking 15 million ticket sales, with an attendance increase of 5.35 per cent, according to the Society of London Theatre’s (SOLT) annual data.

The 15.1 million people that attended a show in 2017 account for the highest percentage growth in a decade. It marks the first time numbers have exceeded 15 million since SOLT began recording box office data in 1986, according to The Stage website.

The numbers also show that box office revenue has grown for the 14th year running, having grossed £705m (€791m/$974m) in 2017, surpassing the £700m mark for the first time, and up 9.3 per cent on the previous year.

The jump in the figures are set against an increase in the total number of performances last year – from 17,881 in 2016 to 18,203.

Major openings in 2017 included musicals Hamilton, 42nd Street, Follies and Bat Out of Hell, and plays including Angels in America, Ink and Hamlet.

SOLT president Kenny Wax said the box office figures were a “testament to the creative strength of London theatre and cements the city’s status as the world’s theatre capital.”

He added: “The industry has many reasons to celebrate but must remain cautious as we look ahead to the rest of 2018. It is heartening to have seen growth in audiences for both plays and musicals. However, the year is a tale of two halves, with the industry operating in a tougher climate in the final two quarters.”

In addition, average ticket prices increased by 3.8 per cent from £45 in 2016 to £46.71 in 2017.

The data is drawn from London’s 53 major commercial and not-for-profit theatres in full SOLT membership – the same number as in 2016.

Image: Steve Collis