Just like Hollywood’s blockbuster movies, the highest grossing musicals on Broadway are famous for telling compelling stories with outstanding stage scenery. However, the main difference between these two industries is the musical talent of the cast, which keeps Broadway fans on their toes and running to the theatres year after year. From the dance choreographies to costume designs and song compositions, the musicals on this list have excelled in all aspects, making them absolute favourites amongst the audience.
While an astounding majority of the 15 highest grossing movies ever were filmed before the 1980’s, most of the musicals featured here earned big bucks in the past decade. The reason for this is unclear, but this could be due to the theatre ticket prices, which have become somewhat more accessible to the general audience over the years, or because Hollywood’s film adaptations of Broadway classics have increased the originals’ popularity. Either way, the highest grossing musicals on Broadway are definitely worth watching.
9. Mary Poppins
Broadway Gross: $294.56 million
Running Date: 11/16/2006 – 03/03/2013
The world famous book by P.L. Travers tells the story of the Banks family that hires the magical nanny Mary Poppins to take care of their children in London. Long after Disney created the classic movie version of this tale, Broadway launched its musical, which gained instant popularity due to its charming cast.
Broadway Gross: $366.38 million
Running Date: 10/07/1982 – 09/10/2000
Directed by Andrew Lloyd Weber, and based on the T.S. Eliot poems, this musical has enjoyed a very successful run on Broadway. For almost two decades, fans have stormed the theatres to watch the performance of a group of cats that rally a junkyard in the hopes of proving their worthiness of entering the Heaviside layer, where they live out another set of nine lives.
7. Les Misérables
Broadway Gross: $406.26 million
Running Date: 03/12/1987 – 05/18/2003
Before Hollywood took on the challenge of filming the Oscar-winning version of this musical, it played on Broadway as one the highest grossing pieces ever. The heroic story of escaped convict Jean Valjean, who becomes the mayor of a town during the French Revolution and raises the daughter of a deceased prostitute – all while being chased by policeman Javert – certainly tugs at the heart-strings.
6. Beauty and the Beast
Broadway Gross: $429.16 million
Running Date: 04/18/1994 – 07/29/2007
Based on the Disney classic, the Broadway version of a beautiful woman that takes on the toll of her father’s imprisonment in a prince-turned-beast’s castle is just as romantic. Imagine watching these two characters fall in love, on stage, and expressing their love through music.
Broadway Gross: $504.75 million
Running Date: 11/14/1996 – present
Set in 1920’s Chicago, this musical tells the tragic tale of charming and innocent-looking Roxie Hart, who lands in jail after murdering her unfaithful lover. There, she’ll have to compete with fellow murderess and showgirl Velma Kelly, for the attention of a superstar lawyer in order to be released from prison and conquer the stages.
4. Mamma Mia!
Broadway Gross: $588.79 million
Running Date: 10/18/2001 – present
Before Meryl Streep took on the task of acting in the film adaptation of Mamma Mia!, the musical was already well on its way to becoming one of the highest grossing Broadway productions. Accompanied by the poppy tunes of ABBA, a young woman commences the search for her unknown father in order to invite him to her wedding, only to find out that his identity is rather difficult to decipher.
Broadway Gross: $867.12 million
Running Date: 10/30/2003 – present
This tale of two girls who become friends in the land Oz, and as adults hold the names of Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch, is one of my most popular shows on Broadway and a favourite amongst children.
2. The Phantom of the Opera
Broadway Gross: $975.07 million
Running Date: 01/26/1988 – present
Considered one of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s masterpieces, The Phantom of the Opera encases its audience in the infatuation of a young soprano singer with a disfigured musical mastermind, as he haunts the underground of the Paris Opera. One of the most dramatic musicals of all time is also, unsurprisingly, a long lasting Broadway hit.
1. The Lion King
Broadway Gross: $1.09 billion
Running Date: 11/13/1997 – present
This Disney movie touched the heart of millions of kids around the world before it was readapted as a musical. The tragically compelling story of young lion prince Simba, who runs away from his kingdom, only to return and fight for his place as an honourable and kind king, is by far the highest grossing musical on Broadway and in theatre history.