These Musical Films Are Broadway Shows First


With movies like “The Greatest Showman” and “Lalaladance,” there’s no doubt that people love watching musical films. Whether it’s the story that inspired people to watch or the overall musical feel that got everybody hooked, one thing is for sure – these musicals indeed remind us of the Broadway era. Unless you’re a musical fanatic, you wouldn’t know that some of these movies are actually Broadway shows first before they were adapted to films.

Here are some of the best musical films that graced the Broadway stage:



Perhaps, still one of the most popular musical films of all time, Grease was a Broadway show that premiered in 1972. The musical romantic comedy starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta was released in 1978. The story revolves around two high school seniors: a good girl and bad boy falling in love with each other set in the late 1950s.

The musical was created by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. The title was derived from the 1950s US working class youth subculture known as ‘greasers.’ In its original production in Chicago, the show featured aggressive and vulgar issues like teenage pregnancy, gang violence, and peer pressure. Its subsequent productions were toned down and emphasized more on its theme which includes love and friendship during adolescence. Overall, it had a total of 3,388 performance run which was one of the longest in Broadway history.

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia

Having the best stars in one film, there’s no doubt that the movie Mamma Mia was a sure hit. It stars Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, and more. The movie was released in 2008. Before it hit theatres, it was a mega-Broadway hit in 2001.

The jukebox musical was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson. The songs were all based on ABBA’s hits composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Some of the songs featured in the production are “Super Trouper,” “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “Thank you for the music.”

The overall theme was full of women empowerment centered on friendship, love, and family. The production closed in September 2015 after 14 years, making it the 9th longest-running show in Broadway history. A typical production runs for 2 and a half hours with a 15-minute intermission.



In 2006, the American romantic musical drama film starring Beyonce Knowles was released. It also stars Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, and Jennifer Hudson. The film was produced and released by DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures. With a production cost of $80 million, the film was considered the most expensive film to feature an all African-American cast.

The movie was adapted from the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name with music written by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen. The story was about a young female singing trio from Chicago. Bringing the group name “The Dream,” the trio became music superstars. It was said to be based on the story of The Supremes. Despite Eyen’s denial, a number of similarities between true life events of The Supremes and the plot of the musical were obvious.

The musical opened in December 20, 1981. It was then nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won six of those. The film adaptation also won three Golden Globe Awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture and two Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney ToddThe film adaptation starring Johnny Depp was released in 2007. The musical period horror was directed by Tim Burton based on the 1979 musical, which was based on the 1973 play of the same title by Christopher Bond. The film follows the Victorian melodramatic tale of Sweeney Todd. He was a barber and a serial killer who murders his customers with a straight razor. With the help of his assistant, he processes their corpses into meat pies.

Burton says he has always looked forward to bringing this musical into big screen since the 1980s but it was only in 2006 that he was able to realize his dream when he was appointed to replace director Sam Mendes.

While Johnny Depp’s acting skills had been proven, he was not known for his singing so he took lessons in preparation for his role. The film was chosen as one of the best films in 2007. It also won a number of awards from Golden Globe and Academy Awards.

The musical, on the other hand, by Stephen Sondheim was opened on Broadway in 1979 and in the West End in 1980. It also won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Olivier Award for Best New Musical.



Before “Frozen,” Idina Menzel was in a hit musical entitled “Rent.” The movie was released in late 2005. It tells the story of a group of New Yorkers as they struggle with their rental payment, drugs, sexuality, and their lives as they deal with AIDS. The story was set in 1989-1990.

The show was a Broadway hit in 1996. What’s more interesting is that several of the stars from the Broadway reprised their roles in the movie, including Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Anthony Rapp, and Adam Pascal.

The musical was classified as a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson.  It was loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme. After a 12-year run, the production closed on September 7, 2008 with 5,123 performances.