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Working Paper, No. 2017-24, 2017
An Analysis of Revenues at the Comédie française, 1680-1793

I study the business practices of the Comédie française, the main theater in Paris, between 1680 and 1793. The theater was an actors’ partnership and operated within a (contested) oligopoly. Newly available data provide revenues by price category for over 32,000 performances. Attendance varied considerably from one performance to the next. Total revenues increased in the second half of the 18th century as demand for entertainment in Paris boomed. The increase came in part from box rentals (by performance or by season). Pricing practices changed over time, as premium pricing for high-demand events made way for premium pricing on specific weekdays, and ultimately constant pricing. The repertory consisted of proven classics to which successful novelties were added. As demand grew, the theater provided more variety and more novelty.



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