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Top 10 Movie Musicals That Became Broadway Musicals

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
You’ve seen it on the screen. Now you can see it on the stage! Or at least you could have... For this list, we’re looking at movie musicals that were so successful that they were adapted into Broadway productions. We’re only including Broadway productions, which means no West End, Off-Broadway, etc. We’ll also only be looking at movie musicals, so films that have music in them but are not musicals, like “Hairspray” and “The Producers” are excluded. And finally, no animated flicks. Our list includes “Footloose,” “Mary Poppins,” “Once,” “Newsies,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Musicals That Became Broadway Musicals.
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Top 10 Movie Musicals That Became Broadway Musicals


You’ve seen it on the screen. Now you can see it on the stage! Or at least you could have... Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Musicals That Became Broadway Musicals.

For this list, we’re looking at movie musicals that were so successful that they were adapted into Broadway productions. We’re only including Broadway productions, which means no West End, Off-Broadway, etc. We’ll also only be looking at movie musicals, so films that have music in them but are not musicals, like “Hairspray” and “The Producers” are excluded. And finally, no animated flicks.

#10: “Footloose” (1984)


Despite a rather lukewarm critical reception, “Footloose” became an instant success, partly due to its insanely catchy title song. The song has since placed on the American Film Institute’s list of film’s 100 Years…100 Songs and has become an iconic piece of cinematic music. The strength of the song helped carriythe movie to Broadway, where it premiered in October 1998 and ran for just under two years and over 700 performances. Like the movie, the musical received mixed reviews, with many critics praising the cast and music. In 1999, A.C. Ciulla won a Tony Award for Best Choreography for his work on the musical.

#9: “An American in Paris” (1951)


Now this is how you revive a classic for a new generation. “An American in Paris” was first released way back in 1951 and starred one of film’s most renowned and accomplished musical performers, Gene Kelly. It’s known as one of the greatest movie musicals of all time, primarily due to the outstanding 17-minute dance sequence between Kelly and Leslie Caron. A Broadway production opened at the Palace Theatre in 2015 and ran for 623 performances, and while it’s hard to top the masterpiece that is the film, the musical received critical acclaim and won four Tony Awards, including Best Orchestrations and Best Choreography.

#8: “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968)


“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” was one of the most ambitious movie musicals of its time. It was based on James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s novel, it was produced by the Bond series’ Albert R. Broccoli, and its visual effects were done by “Star Wars” and Bond artist John Stears. A musical based on the movie premiered in West End in 2002 before making its way to Broadway’s Lyric Theatre in 2005. However, the Broadway performance was a failure, generating poor reviews and failing to recoup its massive budget. Seems like not everyone loves “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” after all.

#7: “Xanadu” (1980)


“Xanadu” had all the workings of a classic on paper. It starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly in his final movie role, and featured music by both Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra. This is ‘80s 101 stuff right here, yet it was a total failure, becoming a box office bomb and earning the ire of critics. In fact, it was so bad that it led to the creation of the Razzie Awards. Despite its failure, it was made into a Broadway production in 2007 and ran for over 500 performances before closing in September 2008. And unlike its source, the musical received positive reviews due to its un-Broadway-like nature and fun ‘80s campiness.

#6: “Newsies” (1992)


“Newsies” isn’t one of the most highly regarded or popular Disney movies out there. It tells the story of the New York Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 and starred many notable actors, including Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, and Robert Duvall. The movie was a huge flop, earning just $2.8 million at the box office and receiving negative reviews. Why they decided to turn THIS into a Broadway musical is beyond us, but lo and behold, it was a monumental success. The musical opened in the Nederlander Theatre in March 2012 and soon became the fastest musical based on a Disney film to become profitable. It finally closed in August 2014 after over a thousand performances.

#5: “42nd Street” (1933)


“42nd Street” is the definition of an oldie-but-goodie. It was released in 1933 and was an instant critical darling, earning a Best Picture nomination at the sixth ever Academy Awards. It is now regarded as one of the greatest and most influential movie musicals of all time. Needless to say, the Broadway production had a lot to live up to. Luckily, they did the classic proud. The musical opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in August 1980 and ran for 3,486 performances, making it the 14th longest-running show in Broadway history. It was also a major critical success, winning the 1981 Tony Awards for Best Choreography and Best Musical.

#4: “Mary Poppins” (1964)


Unlike “Newsies,” “Mary Poppins” is still, over fifty years afters its release, one of the most beloved live-action Disney films. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious movie musicals of all time, earning a staggering 13 Academy Award nominations and winning five, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews. In the early 2000s, plans were made to adapt P.L. Travers’ novels for the stage while incorporating the songs from the classic Disney movie. After a successful run on West End, the play debuted on Broadway in November 2006. It received generally positive reviews and ran for over six years and 2,619 performances.

#3: “Once” (2007)


“Once” is probably the most surprising success of recent years. This was a small Irish film made on a budget of just $150,000. It was a monumental critical success, hailed as one of the greatest movies of 2007, which in turn led to its increased popularity. It was soon adapted into a musical and made its Broadway debut at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in March 2012. It was the most acclaimed musical of 2012, winning eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It also earned the prestigious Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical. It finally closed in January 2015 after 1,167 performances.

#2: “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (1967)


“Thoroughly Modern Millie” is another Julie Andrews classic. It told the story of a young woman who pines for her older, wealthy boss, and it incorporates original songs with classics of the roaring 20s like “Baby Face” and “Jazz Baby”. It was a unique concoction that earned the movie seven Academy Award nominations and one win for Best Original Score. A Broadway adaptation premiered at the Marquis in April 2002 and ran for over two years and 903 performances. It also took home six Tonys at the 2002 awards ceremony, including Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations (to go with its similar Academy Award), and Best Musical.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Gigi” (1958)

“White Christmas” (1954)

“High Society” (1956)

#1: “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)


Often hailed as the greatest movie musical of all time, “Singin’ in the Rain” is praised for its story and technical complexity, including what are arguably the best dancing scenes ever captured on film. The musical adaptation had no hope to compare, but it was still a success on its own terms. A Broadway production opened at the Gershwin in 1985. It was a minor success, earning two Tony Award nominations and running for 367 performances. Plans were made for Harvey Weinstein to produce a Broadway revival adapted from a prestigious French production, but this idea was shelved after he became the subject of numerous sexual assault allegations.
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