An Analysis of Revenues at the Comédie Française, 1680-1793

53 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2020

Date Written: November, 2017


I study the business practices of the Comdie franaise, 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.

Keywords: Entertainment industry, history of theater, oligopoly, France, Paris, Comédie Française

JEL Classification: L82, N73, N83

Suggested Citation

Velde, Francois R., An Analysis of Revenues at the Comédie Française, 1680-1793 (November, 2017). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. WP-2017-24, Available at SSRN:

Francois R. Velde (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Economic Research
Chicago, IL 60604-1413
United States
(312) 322-2526 (Phone)
(312) 322-2357 (Fax)

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