As Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again continues to dominate the UK Box Office, we take a look at five other big-screen musicals that have captured the hearts and minds of moviegoers all over the world.
The Sound of Music (1965)
The hills were alive with the sound of music back in 1965 when Julie Andrews graced the big screen once again, this time lending her angelic voice to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Only three months earlier, Andrews floated through the skies as a very different kind of Nanny in Disney’s Mary Poppins but her star quality, even in those early years, was undeniable. The musical drama told the story of the Von Trapp family, from Nazi-occupied Austria during World War Two, and their brave bid for freedom. Despite some complaints from the real Maria von Trapp, particularly in regards to the portrayal of her husband Captain Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), the adaptation is generally well received by the families’ real-life counterparts. The stage production won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1960 before going on to pick up five Academy Awards in 1965, including Best Picture, for the silver screen adaptation.
Taking the mantle of Highest-Grossing Musical from The Sound of Music after a thirteen-year run, Grease became an instant classic with its timeless story of two young lovers coming together against all odds. The “Rock n’ Roll Party” made worldwide stars of its two leads Olivia Newton-John, then a relative unknown, and John Travolta, who had already tasted fame as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever.
Despite a lack of real award recognition, Grease was the word on everyone’s lips, receiving a positive reception from both critics and audiences alike. The blockbuster held onto the coveted top spot for almost forty years, eventually being knocked off by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; its success couldn’t be replicated for the sequel starring Michelle Pfeiffer, which flopped at the box office and was panned by the critics.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
When asked what the highest grossing musical film of all-time is, you would probably look back to titles released during Hollywood’s musical heyday such as Grease, The Sound of Music or My Fair Lady, all of whom have held the title in the past. But surprisingly, last year’s live-action adaptation of Disney’s romantic fantasy, Beauty and the Beast is the cream of the crop, making more money than The Greatest Showman (currently third on the list) in its opening weekend alone.
This faithful reimagining of the animated classic was received favourably by critics but its similarities to the source material split opinion. It will take something pretty special to knock Disney off of the top spot.
West Side Story (1961)
While not a box office juggernaut like the other titles on this list, West Side Story is the true critical darling garnering an incredible eleven Academy Award nominations, winning ten of them including Best Director and Best Picture. Bringing William Shakespeare’s timeless tale of two star-crossed lovers to the modern day, this New York City love story is a masterpiece and remains one of Broadway’s finest big screen adaptations.
Despite being the oldest title on this list, it has aged fantastically well, with its toe-tapping music remaining as fresh and vibrant as it was when originally composed back in the late 1950s. The likes of My Fair Lady, Chicago, and Damien Chazelle’s La La Land have come close to receiving as much award recognition but ultimately fell short, and it’s hard to see any future release sweeping up in quite the same fashion.
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Last year’s other major musical blockbuster came in the form of Hugh Jackman fronted The Greatest Showman, that reimagines the life and works of American showman P.T. Barnum. No stranger to the music scene, Jackman delighted as the ambitious dreamer who strives to create a life for his family that as a boy he could only dream of. But it was Broadway star Keala Settle who touched audiences, with a rousing performance of the Golden Globe winning Best Original Song, ‘This Is Me’.
The music is the real star of the show with the soundtrack becoming only the second album in thirty years to achieve eleven consecutive weeks as the UK’s Number One. Perhaps the film’s biggest disappointment is Rebecca Ferguson masquerading around as the “Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lund with the spellbinding voice of Loren Allred.