Broadway Continues to Turn to Movies For New Musicals

It used to be that a Broadway show would be a hit on stage, then be made as a movie. But as anyone who has followed Broadway in the last twenty years knows, with the success of Disney Theatrical Group and the the success of Mel BrooksThe Producers at the turn of the twenty-first century, that trend has been mostly reversed — hit movies are now becoming Broadway shows, with a significant amount of Broadway shows of the last dozen years being based on popular movies.

This trend is more evident than ever, with Newsies, Once, Leap of Faith, Ghost: The Musical, Sister Act and Priscilla Queen of the Desert all currently on the Great White Way.  And in the works are Broadway shows based on movies that one would likely never suspect of making a good musical: Rocky, Back to the Future, and Animal House.

Though movies-to-musicals like The Producers, Hairspray, Spamalot, and Billy Elliot became big hits, each winning the Tony Award for Best Musical — with The Producers and Hairspray being such big hits that they were even being remade as musical movies — a movie turned musical isn’t always a major success.   Adaptations of Young Frankenstein, Shrek, Elf, High Fidelity, Urban Cowboy, Saturday Night Fever, and Catch Me If You Can were met with little critical or financial success, and in many cases lacked both.  Some only lasted weeks, not months, before closing.

Yet Broadway producer Ken Davenport argues that the success rate for movies-turned-musicals isn’t any worse than original musicals, point out, “Only 20 to 30 percent of Broadway shows return their investment.  Totally original musicals that aren’t based on anything are unbelievably rare, and have a big failure rate. I look for source material that will make a great musical, and I don’t care if it’s from a book, a movie or a postcard!”

One of the major motivating factors includes audience recognition, with producers hoping that fans of the original film will make the trip to Broadway.  Producer Manny Azenberg says, “A hit film is a brand, and it gives you that recognition factor,” though he admits, “It takes some of the creativity and originality out of the process.”

The New York Post features a lengthy list of musicals currently in the works for Broadway.  They range from “I can totally see that” with shows based on Flashdance to “Really?” with shows like Sleepless in Seattle.  Whether any of them will make it to Broadway is anyone’s guess, but it does show that producers are not giving up on this trend anytime soon.

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

Watch: Daniel Radcliffe on the Differences Between American and British Theater Audiences
Though moviegoers can see Daniel Radcliffe in the fantasy film Horns, which opens today, Broadway fans will have to wait a bit longer. Radcliffe is an unapologetic fan of Broadway — he has starred in Equus, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The Cripple of Inishmaan — but he hasn’t yet made […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-anna-gunn-jacki-weaver-and.jpg
Watch: Anna Gunn, Jacki Weaver and Virginia Kull on ‘Gracepoint’ and Strong Female Roles on TV
The actresses also speak candidly about how they feel about their characters in the series and why its important for TV to feature series with strong female leads.Check out the conversation above!
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-cristin-milioti-talks-a-to.jpg
Watch: Cristin Milioti Talks ‘A to Z’, ‘Once’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’
Few actresses have the kind of rise as Cristin Milioti has had in the last few years. A virtual unknown in 2011, she became a bona fide Broadway star in the 2012 hit Once, appeared in a supporting role in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, and was featured as the titular mother […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-bryan-cranstons-acting-adv.jpg
Watch: Bryan Cranston’s Acting Advice
With Breaking Bad: The Complete Series Barrel being released on Blu-ray with all kinds of goodies today, it gives us yet another opportunity to reflect on the series’ star Bryan Cranston and all of the incredible advice he has offered actors in the wake of his success. In a video he filmed in 2013 for […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/alex-sharp-curious-incident-of-the-dog.jpg
Alex Sharp Talks About His Broadway Debut in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ (video)
Alex Sharp went from working in a call-center and renovating houses to going to Julliard. And now, he’s starring in one of the most talked about shows of the season, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Check out this great, inspiring video!