Adapting a musical into a film is something that happens quite often. There are hundreds of cases where a beloved play is brought to the big screen, filled with the same kind of boisterous voices and beautiful singing they're known for in the first place. But, does it always translate well when moved to a new medium?
In some cases, those movies surprise and are even better than the source material. Other times, the movie falls way short. We've gathered five instances where the movie adaption was superior to the original and five cases where it was worse than what it was based on.
10 Better Than Original: Grease
Grease was something of a phenomenon. The musical first premiered in 1971 and it was just a few years later when the film adaptation arrived. The stage version was lauded for tackling subjects like peer pressure and teen pregnancy while delivering an entertaining show.
The film version of Grease changed some characters and songs, but it worked. It helped further the careers of stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. To this day, Grease remains a fan favorite though not many even recall that it was based on a Broadway musical. The movie was so successful that the changes made were eventually incorporated into revivals of the play.
9 Missed The Mark: Mama Mia!
"Mama Mia, here I go again." Those lyrics are iconic and something that people know even if they've never seen any version of the subject matter. Mama Mia! debuted on stage in 1999 and went on to become the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history. In 2008, it was made into a motion picture.
The movie went on to make over $600 million at the box office. However, it could never recapture the original's magic because the cast was mostly filled with people who weren't known for singing. That meant some of the performances lacked from a vocal standpoint, even if the musical numbers were well choreographed.
8 Better Than Original: Dreamgirls
In 1981, Dreamgirls arrived as a Broadway musical, telling the story of a trio of female singers known as "The Dreams." Their rise to R&B fame in a Motown influenced world was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won six of them. When it was adapted into a film in 2006, it was hard to fathom it could top the original.
Somehow, it did. With Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, and a star-making performance from Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls proved to be a critical success. It racked up two Academy Awards and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Dreamgirls launched a superstar, racked up the accolades, and is one of the most notable films to feature an all African-American starring cast.
7 Missed The Mark: Rock Of Ages
Over 2,000 performances spanning a decade can't be wrong. Rock of Ages was a jukebox musical that centered around metal music from the 1980s. Outrageous costumes, thrilling musical performances, and most notably, "fourth wall breaks" were the heart of the show.
For those unaware, a fourth wall break is when the performers stop to speak to and interact with the crowd. The movie misses the boat with that and it just never feels exceptional in the way the stage version did. Met with a mixed response from critics and proving to be a box office bomb, Rock of Ages the movie was ultimately a failure.
6 Better Than Original: Chicago
Chicago has one of the longest track records on this list. Based on a 1926 play, the musical debuted in 1975 and the film adaptation came in 2002. Though Chicago is the longest-running musical revival in Broadway history and winner of multiple Tony Awards, the film is just a bit better.
The story of two murderesses who are jailed and awaiting trial in Chicago in the 1920s demonstrated to be perfect for adaptation. In fact, it worked so well, the musical was a huge financial success and also won six Academy Awards. Among those were Best Art Direction, Best Sound, and an impressive Best Picture win.
5 Missed The Mark: Rent
Pretty much everyone knows about Rent. It's one of the most popular musicals ever, telling the tale of young artists looking to survive in New York under the shadow of AIDS. The stage run lasted over a decade, accumulated many awards, and grossed nearly $300 million.
The 2005 film adaptation had the opposite reception. The critical reviews were mixed and it didn't even make back it's $40 million budget. While it didn't come close to matching the success of the original, some fans do appreciate that some stage cast members reprised their roles for it.
4 Better Than Original: Sweeney Todd
Fully titled Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, this musical is far different from the rest of the list. It is a kind of slasher story, depicting an English barber who seeks revenge after his family is killed. He becomes a serial killer, murdering with his razor, and then baking the corpses into meat pies. Grim, right?
While the stage version has been revived and won a Tony Award, the film is at least slightly better. Johnny Depp gives one of the strongest performances of his career and his voice turned out to be a perfect fit for the character. Tim Burton had a vision that was ideal for this story. It won an Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Art Direction and Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, respectively.
3 Missed The Mark: Annie
We aren't talking about the 1982 family classic, but the 2014 remake of Annie. Despite attracting talents like Jamie Foxx, Rose Bryne, and Cameron Diaz in her final film role, this was a case where an adaptation missed the mark on two fronts. It wasn't as good as the musical or the first movie based on it.
The 1977 Broadway musical ran for six successful years and spawned a tour of productions across several countries. Annie gave us iconic songs that are relevant in pop culture to this day like "Tomorrow" and "It's The Hard Knock Life." Meanwhile, the 2014 version has already been forgotten by most moviegoers.
2 Better Than Original: The Sound Of Music
This one is difficult to quantify. The stage version of The Sound of Music is an all-time classic. It's one of the greatest love stories in history and earned five Tony Award victories. Though it started back in 1959, it is still going strong today. And yet, the film is even better.
Premiering in 1965, The Sound of Music hit theaters and was an instant hit. It grossed over $280 million on a paltry $8.2 million budget and is one of the ten highest grossing movies in history when adjusted for inflation. It was a Best Picture Oscar winner and is held in such high esteem that it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
1 Missed The Mark: The Phantom Of The Opera
10,000 performances. A worldwide gross of over $5 billion. Over 130 million in attendance. There's a reason The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running show in Broadway history. The love story of a mysterious disfigured musician becoming obsessed with a beautiful singer is legendary and epic.
The 2004 film of the same name isn't nearly as memorable. There's talent in Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, but this version lacks substance. Flooded with production stalling and heavily panned writing and direction, The Phantom of the Opera lacked a lot of what made the source material so wonderful.