When the Broadway musical Chicago was adapted into a film in 2002, two things happened: the film received huge success, including an Academy Award for Best Picture, and a new era began for movie musicals. Since then, Hollywood has taken over musical theatre, transforming many Broadway and West End productions like THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and HAIRSPRAY into films. Even Disney got into the spirit with movies like HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL and CAMP ROCK. Now, with so many new movies from the genre being produced, is the musical still a box office draw?
FROM STAGE TO SCREEN
Turning a stage musical into a film can be difficult. A stage musical is first and foremost a performance. It’s more about the dance routines, glittery costumes and happy-go-lucky singsong tunes; the plot is almost secondary next to all that. In a musical film, it’s the other way around, because you are mostly concentrating on telling a story. And if you want box office success, the film needs to be balance or the audience could get lost and not understand the plot. Look at movies like THE PRODUCERS and RENT, both flops at the box office, but great musicals on stage.
SECOND TIME’S A CHARM
With past musicals becoming popular hits, it’s no wonder producers want to remake certain ones. Two confirmed musical films that we can look forward to are a remake of FAME, starring CAMP ROCK’s Anna Maria Perez de Tagle and PHIL OF THE FUTURE’s Kay Panabaker, and a remake of the 1984 movie FOOTLOOSE, starring GOSSIP GIRL’s Chace Crawford. Both of the original versions were nominated for many awards, including Grammy’s, Golden Globes and Oscars. Rumour also has it that AMERICAN IDOL judge Simon Cowell plans to remake 1977’s SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER with Timberland doing the soundtrack and Zac Efron starring in the lead role.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
With critics calling this era “The Golden Age of Musicals”, it seems that musical movies are definitely still in. With the catchy tunes and cool dance moves, who wouldn’t love a musical that makes you want to get up and join in the fun? While past musicals have usually gotten mixed reviews, the real test for future movies will be with audiences in theatres.
BY THE NUMBERS
- MAMMA MIA! is the highest grossing film ever to be released in the U.K., bumping reigning record holder TITANIC down to second and HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE to third.
- In 1929, THE BROADWAY MELODY was the first musical film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Other musical films that won the Academy Award for the same category were GIGI (1959), WEST SIDE STORY (1961), MY FAIR LADY (1964), THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965), OLIVER (1968) and CHICAGO (2002).
- With $42 million, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 had the highest box office opening weekend for any musical film ever.
- Released in 1927, THE JAZZ SINGER was the very first movie musical.
TOP 5 MUSICAL MOVIES
*Note: Domestic lifetime grosses according to Box Office Mojo