In The 2020 Mid-Year Trenches: Success Stories In A Tough Year

Celine Dion
Brian Rasic / WireImage
– Celine Dion
Dion is No. 2 on Pollstar’s Mid-Year Top 100 Tours, with $71.2 million grossed from 408,407 tickets sold.

It’s a $1.1 billion year so far among the Top 100 Tours presented in Pollstar’s annual Mid-Year recap, from just four months of business rather than six – because, of course, of the mid-March, pandemic-prompted shutdown of live entertainment. Overall box office results industry-wide present the picture of a live business severely affected by a global health crisis, but, even amidst the turmoil, success stories still rise to the top.

And there’s no greater success story than Elton John’s mighty “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, ranked No. 1 at the mid-point of 2020. His gross sits at $87.1 million with 664,749 tickets sold at 38 performances during the Mid-Year time period (Nov. 21, 2019-May 20, 2020). Adding those results to the previous box office counts accumulated since the tour began, his multiple-year swan song on the road has produced $347.3 million in gross earnings from 2.6 million sold tickets.

He entered 2020 in the midst of his tour’s jaunt through Australia and New Zealand – the only stretch Down Under since the tour kicked off in the fall of 2018. And the box office impact has been impressive from the start. Even with a September launch, the farewell tour still ranked among the Top 50 tours of 2018 but, as 2019 progressed, it was never outside the top six in any chart rankings, whether determined by gross or ticket sales. In last year’s Mid-Year feature, he had the highest-grossing tour, and when the Year-End arrived, he was No. 2 in both the worldwide and North American tallies based on gross. Only Pink had a higher box office take globally in 2019, and that was only by $3 million. And in North America, The Rolling Stones’ “No Filter” tour produced the only cumulative gross higher than the Elton John tour.

Pollstar 2020 Mid-Year
His 2020 No. 1 ranking is based exclusively on box office revenue from Oceania. The 14-week run included dates at both stadiums and arenas as well as various wineries in both Australia and New Zealand. Of the 21 venues, 10 of them hosted two shows and eight had a single performance. Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena was the only venue with four concerts: a mid-December engagement that moved 51,556 tickets for a $7.9 million gross. Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena and the Brisbane Entertainment Centre both staged three of his concerts.

The “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour was always destined to be historically significant at the box office. When announced, it was booked in multiple years with potential gross earnings estimated to surpass one-half-billion dollars. Grosses in that range also mean a chance to land among the most successful tours of all time – perhaps as high as the fifth-highest-grossing trek ever, if not higher. Elton John could be headed toward that his tory-making finale if the postponed dates are able to be rescheduled and performed.

Looking beyond Elton John’s AEG-produced tour is another AEG trek in the Top 100 Tours: Celine Dion’s “Courage” world tour (No. 2) that began in Canada in September. She performed in North American markets through March 8 before the tour was postponed. For this Mid-Year accounting, 33 of her concerts fall in the eligibility time frame, totaling $71.2 million from a sold count of 408,407. That is 63% of the shows that have occurred. So far, the entire tour’s gross reaches $103.8 million since debuting at Quebec’s Vidéotron Centre on Sept. 18. The tickets number 646,346 since kick-off with 52 shows already in the books.

Post Malone makes his mark among the Top 100 Tours, landing at No. 5 with $38.8 million in sales from his “Runaway” tour that, like Dion’s, began in September. With 22 shows that played earlier this year counted for Mid-Year, his box office earnings are based on the sale of 286,350 tickets. The bulk of his 2020 concerts were able to be completed before the shut-down with only a handful either postponed or canceled. The overall tallies for the tour since launch show a total gross of $95.4 million from 762,000 tickets at 57 shows. A glance at gross averages show a jump from his last trek, “Beerbongs & Bentleys” (2018-19) that averaged $970,000 per show to $1.7 million per show for “Runaway.”

Eagles hits the No. 6 slot on the strength of 10 shows at four arenas set in February and March, the only ones from the legendary band’s “Hotel California” tour that were completed before pandemic postponements. State Farm Arena in Atlanta hosted three concerts, grossing $8.9 million, and New York City’s Madison Square Garden logged a $10.7 million gross from three shows. Then, the band played two nights at both American Airlines Center in Dallas and Toyota Center in Houston. Overall grosses from the four arenas totaled $33.6 million from 129,632 tickets.
Mid-Year Worldwide Ticket Sales
Other Top 10 grossers among the Top 100 Tours include Trans-Siberian Orchestra landing at No. 3 based on $58.2 million in revenue during the group’s 2019 winter tour. U2 is No. 4 in the Top 100 with $52.1 million from the “Joshua Tree” tour that played Oceania and Asia in November and December. Jonas Brothers’ “Happiness Begins” tour follows at No. 7 with a 29-show gross of $32.7 million, and Dead & Company is No. 8 with eight performances: double-show stints leading up to New Year’s in Los Angeles and San Francisco along with the band’s four-day Mexican beach event “Playing in the Sand.” Andrea Bocelli (No. 9) grossed $25.5 million from 10 American arenas, and Tool’s $25.3 million gross earns the band the 10th spot with 20 performances in North America and Oceania.

Post Malone
Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP / Getty Images
– Post Malone
Malone is No. 5 on the year to date, with 22 shows moving 286,350 tickets and nearly $40 million grossed.

Among the leaders of genres not represented in the Top 10, the highest-grossing country artist is “King of Country” George Strait (No. 12) with a sales total of $24.3 million from nine concerts at arenas in Las Vegas; Fort Worth, Texas; Wichita, Kan.; and Kansas City, Mo. Next on the chart at No. 13 is the highest-ranked Latin artist in the Top 100, Aventura with a $24.1 million total from six U.S. arenas on the bachata group’s “Inmortal” tour. Christian recording artist TobyMac’s “Hits Deep” tour comes in at No. 52 with $5.4 million in sales.