If there’s one thing many people who love musicals wish for, it's to see their favorite Broadway productions on the big screen. While official recordings of musicals are pretty rare to get your hands on, there have been many stage musicals that have been turned into movie adaptations over the years.
While watching a movie version of a show is a different experience, many of these versions turned out really well and offer their own benefits. For decades, musicals have been turned into movies, but some of them are definitely better than others. We’ve collected a list of 10 of the best stage musicals that have been turned into movies.
Most people these days are probably more aware of the movie version of Grease than the stage one. While Grease started out as a musical in 1971, it was turned into a successful movie in 1978 that starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
While there are definitely some things about this movie that feel pretty outdated now, when it comes to issues of gender, relationships and such, the songs will definitely get suck in your head. This is one of the few times where the movie version is far more popular and beloved than the original.
Hairspray first appeared on Broadway in 2002. The interesting thing about this show was that it actually was a movie first. The first version of Hairspray was a John Waters’ film from 1988 which was then turned into the stage production. Then, in 2007, a musical film was created based on the Broadway show itself.
The 2007 version starred many big stars including John Travolta, Michelle Pfieffer, Christopher Walken, and Queen Latifah, among many others. Once you see this movie you’ll never be able to get the phrase “Good morning Baltimore!” out of your head.
8 SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
Sweeney Todd is definitely a very famous musical. It was created by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler and won a Tony award in 1979.
In 2007, Tim Burton brought this stage production to life with his movie version, which starred Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. This movie definitely has that incomparable Tim Burton aesthetic and is one of the few big musical adaptations that is rated R. It’s easy to see why, given the subject matter of a murderous barber. Musical horror films aren't something you see every day, but this is a perfect example of the concept.
7 THE SOUND OF MUSIC
The Sound of Music movie was released in 1965 and starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The songs from this film are classics, including the title song and “My Favorite Things.”
Many people don’t realize that The Sound of Music was first a stage musical made in 1959. The source material for the musical was the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. One thing is for sure, The Sound of Music is one of the most iconic and influential musicals on this list, and one of the best.
6 LES MISERABLES
Les Misérables has had many different adaptations in different mediums over the years. The story first appeared in novel form in 1862 and was written by Victor Hugo. Over 100 years later, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, and Herbert Kretzmer turned the novel about justice and mercy into a musical.
In 2012, a movie based on the musical was released, featuring many big stars such as Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathway. While the movie itself is definitely well made and emotional, the singing abilities of the actors aren’t quite up to a Broadway level.
Rent is one of the better known modern musicals. This stage production tells the story of a group of Bohemian friends as they deal with issues such as sexuality, drugs, AIDS, and more in the East Village in NYC during the late 1980s and early 90s.
Rent first made it to Broadway in 1998 and was actually based on the opera La Bohème. In 2004, Chris Columbus directed a movie version that featured six of the casts of the original Broadway show. This film didn’t do very well at the box office, but the songs definitely get stuck in your head.
Chicago the movie was released in 2002 and based on the show of the same name. The stage version of Chicago had its first run on Broadway in 1975. Funnily enough, the musical was based on a play written by real-life reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, who followed actual criminals.
The movie stars the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, and Renée Zellweger. This film did well when it came to awards, winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2003. If you’ve never been able to see the show, it’s definitely worth watching the movie.
The Dreamgirls musical was first on Broadway in 1981. The story follows the fictional band the Dreams, bringing the world of R&B in the 1960s and 70s to vivid life.
While fictional, the musical is based somewhat on the real group The Supremes. The movie version was released in 2008 and starred Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson. While the movie might not have lived up to the hype, the performance of Jennifer Hudson and her singing ability definitely carried the movie.
Annie is another musical that most people associate with the movie version more than anything else. The first movie version of Annie was released in 1982. It also won two Academy Awards for Best Production Design and Best Song Score. Before it was a movie, however, Annie was a musical that first appeared on Broadway in 1977.
While not the most groundbreaking musical out there, Annie is a great show and film for families and kids. Plus, songs like “Hard Knock Life” are well-known and remembered by most people who have seen the movie or musical. There have also been other movie adaptations over the years, including one in 2014.
1 WEST SIDE STORY
West Side Story first appearance as a Broadway show in 1957. It was directed by Jerome Robbins with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
In 1961, the film adaptation was released. The film adaptation was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won ten of them, including the award for Best Picture. West Side Story is regarded as a movie of great cultural significance and is even included in the National Film Registry.