Musicals have been enchanting theater-goers for a long time, and in recent years, they’ve been sweeping up the box office more than ever before. We’re here to take a look at which movie musicals have outperformed the rest.
In this ranking, we’ll be using stats from Box Office Mojo. Additionally, we will only be looking at live-action movies, meaning animated hits won't be included. Finally, we’ll be basing our entries on films' domestic grosses, though we definitely won’t be ignoring their performances at box offices worldwide.
Grab that popcorn, and get ready to sing along. Here are the highest-ranking movie musicals of all time.
10 Mamma Mia!
Universal’s Mama Mia! jived its way to $144 million at the domestic box office, bringing in $609 million worldwide. The 2008 jukebox musical featured songs created by Swedish pop group ABBA and was named after their 1975 chart-topper of the same name.
The film is about a bride who invites three men from her mother’s past to her wedding in an attempt to figure out who her father is. The cast included names like Meryl Streep, Pier Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgård.
Though critic reviews were mixed, the romantic musical gained a considerable following. This resulted in a sequel, which premiered ten years after the original.
9 Les Misérables (2012)
Based on the classic French novel of the same name, Les Misérables tells the story of a man who must care for a child after having been a prisoner for 19 years. This is all set against the backdrop of 19th century France, with the film concluding with the June Rebellion.
The $61 million dollar budget was transformed into a $148 million box office score and $441 million worldwide.
With stars like Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried leading the group, it’s no wonder the film performed so well. Critic reviews were mixed-positive, with many praising the musical's rawness.
8 La La Land
La La Land tells the story of a struggling actress and jazz musician whose lives get a little crazy when their dreams collide with romance. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, whose on-screen chemistry had previously been proven in films including Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad. Their acting talents, combined with the old Hollywood movie cinematography, helped the film’s critical reception burn bright.
The romantic musical took in $151 million at the domestic box office and $446 million worldwide.
The classic 1927 play about female convicts during the Jazz Age was transformed into a crime film in 2002. The crime comedy-drama is set in the city it is named for and features iconic songs including “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango.” Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, and Queen Latifah led the cast.
Critics loved how energy-filled the Broadway adaption had become. Audiences seemed to like it, too, with the film raking in $170 million at the domestic box office and $306 million worldwide.
6 Mary Poppins Returns
This sequel to Mary Poppins traded Julie Andrews for Emily Blunt, saw Dick Van Dyke returning a bit, and introduced Lin Manuel Miranda. The fantasy musical, which centers on an English nanny and the new children she takes care of, took in $172 million at the domestic box office and $349 worldwide.
Though the new film could in no way replace the original, the magic and special effects were applauded by critics and audiences alike.
5 The Greatest Showman
P. T. Barnum’s circus was transformed into a musical during the 2017 holiday season. Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya, the film was applauded for its strong performances and memorable songs, including the original number “This Is Me,” which has been cemented as a modern classic.
Though the film strayed greatly from actual history, it was filled with dazzling colors, special effects, and romance. It paraded its way to $174 million at the domestic box office and $434 million worldwide.
Grease is the word! This ‘70s classic follows a group of teens in the ’50s after bad boy Danny and good girl Sandy’s summer romance fades into the realities of high school. Starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the film created musical theater hits including “Summer Nights” and “You’re The One That I Want.” It remained the best-performing movie musical for many years until Disney’s live-action remakes bumped it from its No. 1 spot.
The film danced its way to $189 million domestically and $396 million worldwide.
3 Aladdin (2019)
Disney’s live-action Aladdin remake flew to new heights at the box office. At the time of publication, it’s acquired $352 million domestically and over $1 billion worldwide.
The 2019 fantasy musical follows the classic story of a street urchin in Agrabah who falls in love with a princess and attempts to win her affections with a little help from a magic lamp. The film does, however, add additional depth to its characters, with Jasmine, in particular, gaining a whole new story arc of her own.
Though the film received mixed reviews, many still found it to be enchantingly entertaining.
2 The Lion King (2019)
The 2019 remake of The Lion King stars an ensemble cast including Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eicher, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and James Earl Jones. Though it received mixed reviews from critics, with many criticizing the over-realistic visuals which led to a lack of emotion, audiences still flocked to theaters.
As the time of publication, The Lion King has brought in $473 million domestically and over $1.3 billion worldwide.
1 Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Topping off the list (for now at least) is Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. Starring names like Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, and Stanley Tucci, the film combined the magic and music of the original with additional songs, deeper plot points, and stunning scenery. The film took in $504 million at the domestic box office and $1.2 billion worldwide.
Though some critics found that it couldn’t compare to the original, others found it to be a refreshing nod to the animated masterpiece.