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London's theaters are enjoying a 'golden period' says report

LONDON -- London's theater scene is experiencing a “golden period,” better attended than Premier League soccer and taking more at the box office than cinema in the capital, a report said Thursday.

“We believe this makes London the biggest theater city in the world,” said a report by the Society of London Theatre and the National Theatre.

More than 22 million people attended theater performances in the city during the 2012-2013 season, an increase of 5.5 percent from a year earlier, the survey found.

That beats the nearly 14 million who attended Premier League matches last year.

London theaters also took 618.5 million pounds (US$1.05 billion) at the box office in 2012-2013, more than the capital's cinemas.

“London theater is widely held to be enjoying a golden period. Both artistically and at the box office, it is booming,” said the report.

The West End, known for its popular musicals and plays, reported its tenth consecutive year of record box office takings.

Its blockbuster musicals include the Lion King, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot and War Horse.

Based on the available figures, West End theater attendances outstrip New York's Broadway by 20 percent, the report said.

Both admissions and box office takings were up compared to the previous year, though the average ticket price decreased to 27.76 pounds.

The report noted the industry was subsidized both by the government and by people working for little or no pay.

The report found London has 110,000 theater seats spread among 241 professional theater spaces, over half of them not-for-profit.

It said the city could be the biggest theatrical employer in the world, engaging an estimated 3,141 performers at any one time.

Almost a quarter of holiday visitors to London go to the theater, the report added.

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