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Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Working Paper Series
An Analysis of Revenues at the Comédie française, 1680-1793
Francois R. Velde

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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Francois R. Velde, An Analysis of Revenues at the Comédie française, 1680-1793, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Working Paper Series WP-2017-24, 10 Nov 2017.
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Keywords: Entertainment industry; history of theater; oligopoly; France; Paris; Comédie Française
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