London opening of 'Book of Mormon' is one for the books
BY MARK KENNEDY, AP Drama Writer
NEW YORK -- The seemingly unstoppable hit "The Book of Mormon" has broken another record -- this time on the other side of the Atlantic.
The quirky, profane musical opened Thursday night to some critical bashing, but the next day earned the highest one-day gross in London theater history.
Between 10 a.m. and midnight Friday, 2,107,972 million pounds ($3.2 million) worth of tickets were sold at the box office, according to final figures. By comparison, the Broadway version only earned $1.5 million the day after it opened to rapturous reviews.
"London can be tough," Scott Rudin, an influential theater and film producer who has steered "The Book of Mormon," said by phone Friday night after flying back from England. "American musicals tend to get knocked in the teeth in London, by and large. It's a tougher place."
The show is now booked at the Prince of Wales Theatre until January, but Rudin predicts it may be in London for a long time to come.
To put the staggering one-day take in perspective, the highest single-week gross in the West End -- from another Yankee show, "Wicked" -- was just over 1 million pounds over nine productions during the final week of 2010. The $3.2 million windfall is technically higher than the current West End and Broadway one-day record $3.1 million that poured in the day after "The Producers" opened on Broadway, but that haul hasn't been adjusted for inflation.
"The Book of Mormon" by "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and "Avenue Q" composer Robert Lopez tells the story of two Mormon missionaries sent to spread the word in Uganda.
In New York, "The Book of Mormon" won nine Tony Awards in 2011, including best musical. The show also won a Grammy Award and recouped its $11.4 million capitalization after just nine months. It remains the toughest ticket to get on Broadway.
A production has opened in Chicago -- it set a house record for the Bank of America Theatre and has been extended three times until September -- and a national tour kicked off in August in Denver, where it has broken box office records as it crosses the country.