There have been many successful musical to movie adaptations over the years, from Sweeney Todd to Les Miserables to Hairspray. With the freedom that film allows, as opposed to the restrictions of the stage, many musicals are able to travel to new heights when they move to the big screen.
Less common, but still brimming with potential, is the movie to musical adaptation, popularized in recent years by shows like Legally Blonde: The Musical, Heathers: The Musical and Bring It On: The Musical, all of which have become incredibly popular with theater fans. Their success got us thinking– what movies would have been better with a few songs in the mix? The musical style often allows for movies to express their inner drama and inner ridiculousness in the way that only musicals can, so it can really help a film to bring out pieces that were hidden in their original versions. With modern superhero series even getting into the mix, there truly is no limit to what can be accomplished with a little song and dance. Here are 17 movies that should follow in the footsteps of those hallowed shows and try their hand at adding in a musical soundtrack.
17. Edward Scissorhands
The dramatic story of an angsty scissor-handed Johnny Depp was basically made to be a musical, with all of the ups and downs of the classic medium jammed into a 105 minute film. The story of an outcast looking to fit in and find their place in the world is a classic for musicals, and the fact that Edward Scissorhands also adds in ridiculous costumes, humor and an adorable love story doesn’t hurt either.
There could definitely be some great songs about Edward’s inner angst, plus a romping dance number about his work trimming those hedges and, of course, a power ballad love song between him and Winona Ryder and of course some great songs for the townspeople to express their general angst and obsession with Edward. It would help the classic film turn into something even better, while at the same time demonstrating that musicals can be weird, fun and quirky, too.
16. The Emperor’s New Groove
Disney’s llama-centric flick is already a bit of a musical. The soundtrack is vitally important to the workings of the comedy, and the song “My Funny Friend and Me” even earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. Still, it would be great to see the movie with a full blown musical soundtrack, complete with Kuzco singing love songs to himself and Yzma singing power ballads about, well, power.
Kuzco’s and Yzma’s numbers are sure to be hits, while a nonsensical song from Kronk about his inner conflict (hello, angel and devil Kronk on his shoulder scene) and a song about the love between Pacha and his wife are also surefire chart toppers. Then, of course, there would be the fun songs backing up scenes with Yzma’s potion (and about her crazy lair) that would be hilarious and fun. The result would almost certainly be a hilarious, family friendly romp that could be an even bigger hit than the original film.
15. Die Hard
We would probably give up our life savings and more to see Die Hard as a musical, and we’re pretty sure a lot of other fans of the groundbreaking 1988 action film would as well. John McClane’s marital angst and penchant for hiding his feelings by killing German terrorists is made to be a musical, giving plenty of opportunities for soul exploring ballads a la Sweeney Todd and high flying fight songs a la Hamilton.
Hans Gruber could quickly become an even better villain than he already is, with his accent and his love of trickery helping to make him the fun, exciting big bad that a musical needs to stay on its feet. As far as songs that the musical absolutely has to have, Hans Gruber needs a number while in disguise as Bill Clay, and the movie’s best character, Sergeant Powell, deserves least two solo numbers and a few reprises, if not more. And hey, maybe a Die Hard musical could pave the way for adding songs into further franchise classics like Die Hard With a Vengeance or Live Free or Die Hard. They can go ahead and skip A Good Day To Die Hard, though.
14. Fast and Furious
Imagine just how awesome a musical version of The Fast and the Furious could be. The movie’s seedy atmosphere would make it the perfect location for a group of quick, fun songs that could help to take it from just the most famous car racing movie in the world to the most famous car racing movie musical in the world.
Songs about racing, love, friendship and conflict are sure to become instant radio hits, and we’re sure that the show would have some great dancing involved as well. The car chases would probably be even better if the drivers were singing during them, really helping to give them more of an emotional center. Plus, who hasn’t spent their whole life dreaming about seeing Vin Diesel sing and dance again after the gloriousness that was the theater scenes in The Pacifier? The world needs this right now, and The Fast and the Furious franchise needs to deliver.
It could even get Dwayne Johnson a bit more enthusiastic about possibly returning to the franchise — assuming he’s got a little theater in him.
Zoolander, the ridiculous Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson comedy, would be the perfect movie to strut its stuff as a musical. The original film placed a lot of stock in its soundtrack, using songs like Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” as themes to some of the movie’s funniest and most memorable moments.
Now, we’re not sure exactly how the licensing would work out, but how great would it be if the movie could take these same songs, slap on some harmonies and a few dance moves, and recreate those moments as actual musicals? Of course, they would also have to add in some great original songs, like a love song between Derek Zoolander and his face and a great upbeat number highlighting the rivalry between Derek and Hansel, but, with a little bit of tweaking, the movie might be able to makeover itself as a really great musical.
Cher Horowitz was born to be in a musical. The blonde bombshell could of course belt out a great tune about her hair, her clothes and her friends in a way that would take her legendary persona to a whole new level. Then, of course, there’s the great background characters, who would do great with their own big numbers. Dionne and Murray’s relationship is ripe for great songs, and Tai’s beauty transformation is the classic makeover scene that so many musicals have tackled so well (see the Broadway adaptation of Heathers). Then there’s Josh, and we all know we’ve always dreamed of hearing Paul Rudd’s probably amazing singing voice. (He’s great at everything else [read: aging], so why shouldn’t he be great at that too?)
11. Indiana Jones
An Indiana Jones musical would be the Holy Grail of musical. The sexiest college professor around would be a great fit for musicals, with his gruff attitude and signature style translating to singing and dancing in intriguing ways. His various love interests are also great fits — strong women who could really belt out a power ballad in a time of need. The story’s high stakes and high adventure will also work well for musicals, with quick, action-happy scenes made even better when backed up by intense songs.
If you could only pick one Indy film to add the songs to, we’re pushing for Kingdom of the Crystal Sk— just kidding, not sure we can even finish typing that sentence. We all know it has to be either the original, Temple of Doom, or the third, The Last Crusade, which may just inch ahead due to the gloriously ripe daddy issues offered by the introduction of Sean Connery’s Henry Jones. If you’re going to musical-ify an Indy flick, you might as well go all out and make sure Connery is on board.
10. Jurassic Park
There has already been a ballet adaptation of the famous dinosaur flick Jurassic Park, adapting the graceful moves of Jeff Goldblum and a giant T-Rex into at least something tangential to a musical for the first time. But we’re proposing that the story go full-on theater by adding in a few songs into its roar-tastic mix and bringing the classic film to a whole new level.
It would be great to see the main characters belt out a song as they try to escape the dinosaurs and save their lives, but it might be even better to see the dinosaurs come out with songs themselves. Can you imagine the film’s famous giant mechanical T-Rex singing a song about the angst that has caused him to wreak all of this havoc on the poor park attendees? It could quite possibly be the best thing to ever appear on screen, and we need to see it ASAP.
9. Kill Bill
The classic revenge stories of Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2 featured a pair of stellar soundtracks that really helped the action flicks stick in the minds of viewers everywhere, but it could have been even better if it took those cues and adapted them into a full-blown musical. The revenge story of the Bride is classic mining ground for a musical. The movie’s fight scenes are overly stylized and just ridiculous enough to work even better if you added in songs in the background, with the need for realism not fully present in the somewhat dreamlike story.
There are also lots of opportunities coming from the solid supporting characters and from the villain, with funny and heart wrenching songs that are sure to become radio hits pretty much immediately. It would also be great to see how Quentin Tarantino’s signature style would translate into a musical—if the director really put his mind to it, he could definitely create something great.
8. 10 Things I Hate About You
Yet another teen romcom that would make a stellar musical, 10 Things I Hate About You would be sure to become a smash hit on Broadway and remains ripe for adaptation. The film got its origins from the stage, based on the Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew, which, although not originally a musical, definitely had all the makings of one.
There’s Kat’s personality transformation from angry to open, Patrick’s movement from bad boy to boyfriend, Cameron’s nerdy antics and Bianca’s irresistible charm. There’s a great villain in Joey, whose teen drama would surely be amped up for a musical, and even some family drama thrown in with Walter’s differing expectations of his two daughters and with Cat’s desire to leave the nest. With the film already containing iconic musical moments, the such an adaptation would be sure to have a ’90s-heavy soundtrack that would be a hit for its nostalgia factor and its upbeat tunes.
Good luck replacing that A-List cast though. We’re probably just better off rewatching the late Heath Ledger sing his heart out and calling it a day.
7. The Princess Bride
The greatest love story of all time could have made an even better musical. The Princess Bride — initially adapted from the William Goldman book — features a love story between Westley and Princess Buttercup which could spawn dozens of romantic ballads. Adding songs to Buttercup’s character might give her the chance to grow out of the passive, personality-free love interest she was portrayed as in the film, giving a bit of a fuller persona to the princess.
Of course, Cary Elwes would somehow be able to make hearts flutter even more if he were given the chance to belt out a few tunes once in a while, and the movie’s great supporting cast would also allow for some hilarious songs/ Miracle Max and Valerie would obviously have a great duet, Vizzini would sing the smash hit “Inconceivable,” and even Prince Humperdinck may be able to get in on the musical fun with a song about his betrayal of his fiancé and his father.
6. Sucker Punch
With how popular the steampunk genre has been in recent years, it’s no surprise that 2011’s Sucker Punch got a green light. The action flick featured hyped up visuals, a dreamworld plot and an anime-like filmmaking style that got audience’s attention at first, but failed to keep it past the first few initial scenes. The film flatlined hard at the box office and with critics, falling on its face as a result of a over-hyped and confusing story and overdone visuals that took it just a little too far away from the realm of realism.
Without the insane visuals to hide behind, though, Sucker Punch actually did have a story with great dramatic potential, and adding in a few songs here and there could really help to bring that out. Crazily enough, adding in musical elements to Sucker Punch might be something that could help the dream-like plot stay a bit more grounded and allow the film to grow in the way it needed to get viewers invested.
He’ll be back… and this time, with songs. We’re talking about a Terminator musical, and it would quite possibly be the best thing to ever grace the screen. Can Arnold Schwarzenegger sing? Who knows? Who cares? His pure on screen charisma and general awesomeness would be more than enough to make up for a subpar voice.
We would love to see a reboot of the 1984 film incorporating the film’s techno-themed music into a musical soundtrack that allows the actors to sing meaningful and intense songs while still being catchy as all hell. The lovely ’80s hair, dim color palate and general campiness of it all would mean that adding songs could help to make the original movie even better, taking the comedy and overall ridiculousness to a whole new level that would really make the film shine above the rest. The world needs to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger sing, and if we could make it happen, we’d have him do so as a killer robot.
Picture this for just one second: a chorus of 30-plus townspeople — standing together in a carefully placed but seemingly random smattering across the screen — singing in harmony as their voices beautifully fill the theater to the sound of DMX’s beautifully poetic, “X Gonna Give It To Ya”. We’re reasonably certain that all of the world’s problems would simply melt away into the nothing at the sheer amazingness of the moment.
Adding songs to Deadpool could take it from just a great superhero film to a truly outstanding superhero film. It’s campy, expletive-laden, and downright hilarious as it is; now imagine it all in song form. The film has the perfect dramatic arc for inserting songs here and there, and you just know that Ryan Reynolds has some great dance moves up his sleeve. The film lends itself to both long ballads about Wade’s adult angst and upbeat numbers laden with his signature insults and quips, giving the star and his supporting characters a chance to shine even brighter with a few songs added in.
The Coen brothers film has already been adapted into a hit television show, so why not try to adapt Fargo as a musical as well? It would be great to try to translate the film’s small town noir feel into songs, with the memorable atmosphere of the small North Dakota town as a unique and fitting backdrop for some really great tunes.
It may be difficult to imagine how the muted tones of the film could translate into a generally bright and extreme feeling of a musical, but if you really think about it, it has the potential to be completely and entirely awesome if done well. We’re imagining that there would be a lot of xylophone and violin in the soundtrack, an eerily quiet and calm backtrack to the hushed tones of the songs, until, suddenly, they break out, just ever slightly, kind of like the kids in Spring Awakening who use the music to express their true feelings (only with a little less teen angst). Fargo as a musical definitely wouldn’t be easy to pull off, but it would definitely be worth a shot in the pursuit of greatness.
2. Star Wars
Space epic Star Wars has all of the makings of a great musical. The drama in Luke and Leia’s family is textbook musical — unknown family relations are basically the genre’s bread and butter. Then, of course, there’s Han and Chewy, the friendship between two wildly different people which is fundamental in so many great musical songs (see: “If I Didn’t Have You” from Quest for Camelot, also known as the best song ever). Hell, it’s already called a space opera!
There would be a ton of opportunities in the original films to add songs back into the trilogy. Imagine, just for a second, if Darth Vader told Luke that he was his father via song, or if Yoda spoke in tunes instead of riddles. While the movies are classics as is and probably shouldn’t be touched for fear of disturbing some historic movie Force, it still would be great to see them with a little bit of show biz incorporated.
1. Mean Girls
Good news for everyone who thinks that the world’s best teen comedy would make a super fetch musical: it’s already been announced that the movie’s screenwriter and all around awesome lady Tina Fey is going to be adapting her famous film for the stage, and we are so here for it. Mean Girls reignited the tired teen genre when it was released in 2004, an instantly quotable classic that brought together a perfect cast, a perfect plot and the perfect attitude together and wrapped them up into one perfect movie, which, in Fey’s hands, is sure to become a perfect musical as well.
However, we think it also would have been great to see some musical numbers incorporated into the original film. Cady could sing about regretting vomiting on Aaron, or Regina could sing a song about how it’s not her fault that everyone is in love with her (you cannot tell us that that second option wouldn’t win every award ever). Adding a couple of songs to the original film would help musical fans when it comes to the only problem with a Broadway version of the comedy — how hard it will probably be to get tickets. It’s possibly the only show that could overtake Hamilton‘s throne for horrifically expensive ticket sales. Now, if only our father was the inventor of Toaster Strudel, then that might not be a problem…
Which films would you have liked to see spruced up with a few musical numbers? Let us know in the comments!