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The 15 Biggest Broadway Hits

Broadway is a business marked by triumphs and tragedies.It is estimated that only 20 to 30 percent of Broadway shows turn a profit, but the ones that do can mean big money for producers and investors.

According to the industry’s trade association, The Broadway League,Broadway grossed more than $1 billion in the 2009-2010 season. Attendance reached nearly 12 million, topping that of the ten professional New York and New Jersey sports teams put together.

So which Broadway productions have been the biggest moneymakers of all time? CNBC enlisted the help of the Broadway League to find out. Its rankings are based on cumulative gross (not adjusted for inflation) from opening night to either the time of its close or the end of the 2009-2010 season.

Click ahead to see which 15 came out on top!

By Brooke Sopelsa
Posted 15 Oct 2010

Note: Total gross was calculated by adding each show’s total net gross for 2008-2009 and seasons prior to the gross gross for 2009-2010 (if applicable). Average paid admission was calculated by dividing the show's gross by its attendance for the final week of the 2009-10 season (for shows that are currently running) or by dividing the show's gross by the attendance for the final week of its run (for shows that are no longer running). Performance counts do not include previews.

Photo: Mitchell Funk | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images