5 musical movies that really look like the show (and 5 that are missing their lines)


Despite the success of the show or the passion of its fans, the sad truth is that not everyone will have immediate access to a successful Broadway show. Fortunately, the good people of Hollywood did their best to present these musical masterpieces to a wider audience through the film.

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The cinema and the stage are two different worlds that just don’t offer the same experiences. And while many movie musicals are perfect adaptations of their source material, some make the transition better than others. Like any show presented on stage, some are successful and others simply miss their mark.


ten Broadway Bound: Godspell

One thing to remember about the original Divine spell was that it was a product of the time. With that in mind, this psychedelic adaptation of the Gospel of Matthew is an almost perfect portrayal of the original Broadway show. Partly because it uses many actors featured in various original productions.

Not only that, but the use of the cityscape and clown-inspired costumes recreate the playground aesthetic that the original ’70s production strove for. In the end, every choice made was for the best.

9 Missed The Mark: The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

It’s not a horrible movie, but Andrew Lloyd Webber’s immortal musical certainly deserved something on a stage production run. Fans were teased with what looks like an interesting musical adaptation of Phantom of the Opera, what they got was the Harlequin Romance version.

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Gerard Butler’s understated color scheme and design, random casting, and under-repaired singing abilities are just a few reasons Ghost struggled to deliver. With such a reputation and such a devoted following, this thing should have been Oscar worthy.

8 Towards Broadway: Cabaret

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret

While the film may not be a perfect representation of the show on stage, cutting off various motifs due to time and restrictions, there is a reason why this film is so acclaimed. From unforgettable songs to the eclectic dance styles of choreographer Bob Fosse, Cabaret never fails to be both stimulating and entertaining.

The performances are phenomenal, the music is wonderful, and the setting of the alluring Kit Kat Club against the backdrop of Nazi Germany is nothing if not memorable. It’s a classic for a reason.

7 Missed The Mark: Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

Ted Neeley will always be one of the best versions of Jesus Christ to ever film, but that being said, the rest of the film hasn’t aged particularly well. The stage version of Jesus Christ Superstar was a cultural phenomenon, so it took a movie to spread the gospel, so to speak.

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The performances and musical numbers are all perfectly good, but some of the sets, design choices, and mishmash movie techniques make the experience a bit confusing for those unfamiliar with the show.

6 Broadway Bound: Jesus Christ Superstar (2000)

Jesus Christ Superstar 2000

With the 1970s gone, it’s heartwarming to know that this rock opera got a second chance. The 2000 version of Jesus Christ Superstar swaps the motif of the hippies in the Holy Land for a post-apocalyptic theme. Surprisingly, it worked!

While some of the costume choices are a bit dated, this is still a phenomenal take on the score and scriptures. Jesus and his followers are portrayed as a resistance against the totalitarian forces in Rome, and Glenn Carter is phenomenal in the title role.

5 Missed The Mark: Rock of Ages

The cast of Rock of Ages

This one still has plenty of Broadway fans scratching their heads. He had perhaps the best soundtrack a jukebox musical could have, several phenomenal actors, surprising musical talent, there was even Tom Cruise as the legendary rock star. So why did it not work?

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Simply put, the script was bloated and didn’t quite capture the rock-style setting of the original show. It just wasn’t equal to the theatrical experience. Then again, a goofy romantic scene starring Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand will usually do that.

4 Broadway Bound: Sweeney Todd: The Barber Demon of Fleet Street

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd

Obviously, Tim Burton needs to do more musicals and Sweeney todd is solid proof. Pairing Burton and Johnny Depp with this grisly, bloody, gothic musical was one of the best ideas in either career. He basically set the bar for all future releases and staging of the musical.

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter work wonderfully musically together, and Burton’s distinct style really captures the Victorian setting perfectly. It was just the perfect fusion that resulted in an award-winning adaptation.

3 Missed The Mark: Les Misérables

Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Misérables

Again, we have an adaptation where all the right moves were made, but it was found missing. There are basically two major issues with this film, but these are issues that divide audiences and prevent the film from reaching its full potential.

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Most of the film is inconsistent, especially in the city and the performances. Sometimes it’s powerful, but other times it’s too reserved in its execution. Then there is the issue of live singing. It might work for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, but it really annoyed others.

2 Towards Broadway: Chicago

Catherine Zeta-Jones Chicago 2002

A true film adaptation of Chicago It shouldn’t have worked, but luckily it did and audiences were treated to one of the biggest and most explosive musicals of all time. Why did it work? Why has it received such positive reviews? Because it was treated like a show rather than a movie.

Director Rob Marshall absolutely knew what he was doing when he made this masterpiece, framing each musical number as an actual performance rather than a sung scene. It is a musical first and a second in the cinema.

1 You missed the mark: cats

Cats Movie CGI Reissue

This must be problematic when Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench can’t save a movie. With the exception of the song “Beautiful Ghosts”, little is redeemable here. Cats is an eccentric on the Broadway stage, but he has his moments. Unfortunately, none of them showed up.

CGI felines are the stuff of nightmares, the performances are mixed at best, and there just had to be a better way to give this music hall a life of its own. It is only a memory that the public prefers to forget.

NEXT: Hamilton & 9 More Musicals / Plays Based On Real People

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