When a Broadway show becomes a smash hit, the logical next step for its producers is to sell the film rights to the production. RENT, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera – you name it, Hollywood’s appropriated it. These movies turned out to be incredibly popular – Les Mis won Anne Hathaway a much deserved Academy Award (but ruined Russell Crowe’s credentials as a singer). Mamma Mia’s cult classic status has led to a sequel being planned, and Phantom even proved to us that Gerard Butler can sing! Well, kind of.
But who is it exactly that decides which musicals are going to get the big-screen treatment? Most importantly, why have they still not adapted some of the best shows Broadway’s ever seen? Here are just a few examples of musicals that need to get made into films ASAP.
Okay, maybe Hamilton hasn’t been running long enough to warrant a film adaptation quite yet. However, there’s certainly the demand for everyone’s favorite disgraced Founding Father to hit the big screen. The show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has confirmed that the idea has been floating around, and even hinted he’d be willing to take on the title role himself! However, in the words of the show’s Aaron Burr, we’re going to have to “Wait For It” (I’m not even sorry). Miranda needs to focus his energy on getting the West End production up and running first! We Brits deserve a bit of Hamilton too, you know, even if we’re technically the bad guys.
2. Miss Saigon
Miss Saigon is another classic show that should have been made into a movie decades ago. It’s a beautiful story of love and loss set in the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Again, the idea of a film version has been floating around for quite a while now: producer Cameron Mackintosh had previously stated that its development was dependent on the success of the Les Miserables movie. When that turned out to be a smash hit, Mackintosh confirmed that he wanted to make a Miss Saigon film happen. He hinted again that it was in the pipeline in 2016, and there are rumors that Danny Boyle has been lined up to direct. Come on, guys. It needs to happen!
3. Dear Evan Hansen
It may have been on Broadway for less than a year, but Dear Evan Hansen has won the hearts of thousands of theater-goers. The story centers on the titular Evan Hansen, a teen with severe social anxiety who invents a months-long friendship with a recently deceased classmate. It’s a touching and deeply affecting story told in a beautiful way. The show won no less than six Tony Awards back in June and has received general critical acclaim. Sure, it’s probably too soon for the show to transition to the big screen right now, but it’s something we can see happening in future.
4. The Book of Mormon
It’s been making audiences cry with laughter for over five years now, but popular comedy The Book of Mormon still hasn’t made it to the big screen. It’s the perfect candidate for an adaptation. Two of its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are best known for South Park and Team America World Police – they clearly know how to craft an on-screen hit. Some of the craziest sequences in the show would be a delight to watch in film form – can you imagine “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” with the added power of special effects? It’d be a sight to behold. We’d pay lots of money for that.
5. In the Heights
Before Lin-Manuel Miranda was making waves with Hamilton, he was busy creating another highly successful show. In The Heights explores the lives of the members of a Manhattan Latino community, chronicling their loves, heartbreaks, struggles, and triumphs. While it may not be as well-known as Hamilton, it was critically acclaimed upon its release. It even received 13 Tony Award nominations! Its heartfelt music and the engaging plot makes it a compelling contender for a movie musical. Plus, it’d be great to see more shows about people of color receiving the attention they deserve. Unfortunately, a slated film adaptation of the show has run into trouble: it was originally being produced by the Weinstein Company, a relationship that the show’s creators want to sever in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Here’s hoping they’re successful, and can find a new company to take on the project.
6. Avenue Q
If I had to sum up Avenue Q in three words, I’d choose ‘hilarious,’ ‘inappropriate,’ and ‘puppets.’ It’s not exactly your typical Broadway musical, but it’s a popular one none the less. As you may have guessed, a good half of the cast is portrayed by puppets! Featuring smash hit songs like “If You Were Gay,” “The Internet Is for Porn,” and “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist,” it’s a tongue-in-cheek production that definitely deserves big-screen coverage. It’s basically a super adult version of Sesame Street. What’s not to love? Plans to adapt the show for the screen fizzled out in 2013, but we’d be thrilled if they eventually came to fruition.
Can you imagine how utterly bonkers a movie version of Cats would be? In case you hadn’t gathered it from the title, the show tells the story of a bunch of all-singing, all-dancing cats. They have names like Asparagus, Bombalurina, and Shimbleshanks, and get up to a load of inexplicable hi-jinks while occasionally crooning about the moonlight. Sure, a film adaptation of this would be completely eccentric and a bit bizarre, but it’s something we can imagine happening in 2017. Well, actually, it’s likely to happen in 2018 – Les Mis director Tom Hooper has signed on to produce an adaptation. Don’t get too excited though. A film’s been planned before, but never made it past pre-production. We’ll see how this second attempt fares.
I never thought I’d be calling for the Mara Wilson film version of Matilda to be remade, but here I am. While the original film had wit, charm, and a warm sense of humor, it was missing something that the musical provides: a bunch of absolutely cracking songs. Here’s a thought: why not adapt the stage musical into a film, and have Wilson return as Miss Honey? It’s a real possibility. Tim Minchin, the show’s creator, has already suggested that he wants to develop a film adaptation of his musical. However, Broadway rules stipulate that he can’t do so until the show’s been running for six years. Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed for 2019, eh?
9. We Will Rock You
Mamma Mia did us all a huge favor by bringing the music of Abba into our cinemas. Why not give We Will Rock You the chance to do the same for legendary rock band Queen? This rip-roaring rock musical features a cast of kooky characters, a revolution, and a post-apocalyptic setting where rock music is banned. What’s not to love? The show was so popular that it’s become one of the top ten longest running shows ever in the UK – surely that’s reason enough to give it the big screen treatment. It was touted nearly ten years ago, but we’ve heard nothing since. Come on, Brian May! Give the people what they want!
10. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
This moving musical about the struggles of genderqueer rock artist Hedwig Robinson has actually been adapted once for the screen. However, the 2001 version in no way does it justice and was a certified box-office bomb. Now that movie musicals are once again in fashion, it’s the perfect opportunity for Hedwig and the Angry Inch to be given another shot at silver-screen stardom. For one, think of all of the recent Broadway stars of the show who could play Hedwig! You’ve got Neil Patrick Harris, Darren Criss, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells… The list goes on. While a movie musical remake hasn’t really happened before, this would be a great place to start.
11. Spring Awakening
This dark, sultry and sexually charged musical would make a pretty edgy film. Despite being a rock musical that features a lot of alternative musical styles, Spring Awakening is set in the traditional society of late 19th century Germany. It charts the sexual awakening of a group of teenagers, becoming a tragic tale of regret, retribution, and death. It might sound needlessly dark, but it’s a truly powerful show. It’s also a poignant reminder of just how important our reproductive rights are. What better time than the present to turn it into a film? It was apparently on the cards back in 2014, but unfortunately, there’s been no talk of an adaptation since.
12. Blood Brothers
35 years since it first opened on the West End, Blood Brothers STILL hasn’t been made into a film. It’s got a huge cult following and has the third-longest run of any West End show. How has it avoided the silver screen? This tumultuous tale of twins separated at birth has all of the drama a movie needs. Not to mention it’s full of amazing songs! Over a decade ago, rumors emerged that Cate Blanchett and Bono might star in a film adaptation of the show. Sadly, this never materialized. It’s never too late, though! The screenplay’s already written – someone should just go for it!
13. Merrily We Roll Along
Merrily We Roll Along really is the best musical that nobody’s ever heard of. It’s Sondheim at his lyrical, intelligent, heart-wrenching best, and gives an accurate insight into how teenage friendships change over time. The interwoven stories of Charles, Mary, and Frank, three young people trying to make it in the entertainment business, will seriously tug at your heartstrings. It’s the perfect musical for the screen: think La La Land, but about ten times more bitter and poignant. Despite being a hit for over thirty years, the show hasn’t yet made the transition to film. It’s a crying shame, and something that needs to be rectified!
14. Starlight Express
Like Cats, Starlight Express is the kind of quirky musical that would be a delight to see on the big screen. It’s an adorable tale of a child’s toy trains coming to life and racing for the title of ‘Fastest Engine in the World.’ All of the actors perform in roller skates and it’s pretty darn impressive. Despite being literally a musical about trains, the book manages to throw some God allegories in there. It’s also a classic underdog story, with Rusty the train fighting to win the race and get the girl. It’s an ~unusual~ show, to say the least. However, I’d bloody love to see some singing, roller skating trains take over the silver screen.
15. Love Never Dies
When it was announced that Andrew Lloyd Webber was penning a sequel to his smash hit The Phantom of the Opera, the theatre world was more than a little bit dubious. Phantom is an incredible show: why would you try to replicate that with a follow-up that’s unlikely to be as good as the original. In reality, Love Never Dies wasn’t a total disaster. It added an extra chapter to Christine and the Phantom’s story and was actually pretty emotional at times. The main reason for adapting this show into a movie is the fact that Gerard Butler might reprise his role as the Phantom. We’d get to see him swoop around in a sexy cape once more while looking sexy and brooding! Plus, it may also prevent him from making any more terrible disaster movies. It’s for his own good and that of the viewing public.
It’s really hard to understand why this Wizard of Oz-themed masterpiece hasn’t made its way onto the big screen yet. Like, can you imagine how incredible “Defying Gravity” would look on film? Hollywood has missed a huge opportunity there. Luckily, the film industry seems to have caught on to just how popular this show is, and a movie adaptation is in the pipeline for a 2019 release. There’s been no official announcement yet regarding casting, but it’s been rumored that former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger is in the pipeline to play Elphaba. The woman’s definitely got the voice for the role – but who would be her Glinda? Suggestions on a postcard please.