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

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Tom-Hardy-Taboo.jpg
Tom Hardy on How He Prepared for His Role in ‘Taboo’
"I really think about acting in two different parts. There’s convincing and not convincing acting." - Tom Hardy
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/greta-gerwig.jpg
Greta Gerwig’s Advice to New Actors: “Make your own things”
"When I suddenly feel like I can't find my footing, I listen to a song or look at a photograph or read an essay, and reconnect with what I felt the essence of the character was." - Greta Gerwig
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/viggo-mortensen-captain-fantastic.jpg
Viggo Mortensen on How He Became an Actor
"It didn’t occur to me to try acting it until I was, for an actor, relatively pretty old — 22 or 23." - Viggo Mortensen
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Michael-Fassbender.jpg
Michael Fassbender on Finding a Character: “If I can make them logical to myself, then I apply them, and that’s really it”
Fassbender talks about his parents' concern about his action aspirations and why he reject the idea that he is an "intelligent actor."
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Felicity-Jones-Rogue-One.jpg
Felicity Jones on How She Finds Inspiration For Her Characters
"As much as possible, I'm trying to understand who the characters are and why they're making the decisions that they're making." - Felicity Jones