A quick note – why aren’t movie musicals taking off at the box office?


It’s a producer’s dream – a show with a lukewarm opening that slowly picks up steam until the wham – it makes megabucks and enters the Hollywood Hall of Fame. i’m talking about 2017 The greatest showman, which ended up as the fifth highest grossing live-action musical of all time.

Animation aside, musicals have always had a hectic time at the box office. For each La La Land ($ 446 million), there is a Cats (not respecting its budget of 100 million dollars). Yes, the critical response to the latter was nothing short of litter, but the brand’s strong recognition for a $ 3 billion stage show should have done something.

But this year has been a particularly gruesome one for the musical film. In the heights, critically acclaimed, earned $ 43.9 million on a budget of $ 55 million. Dear Evan Hansen, hated by critics, made $ 18.2 million on a budget of $ 28 million. Even with the critical clamor, major reviews, and Steven Spielberg’s name attached, West Side Story has done pretty well – box office revenue is $ 27.5 million – it could increase.

One obvious factor is the pandemic of it all – almost every movie underperforms except for the seemingly plague-proof film directed by Tom Holland. Spider-Man: No Path Home, who managed to break records and bring Spielberg’s musical out of the limelight.

Additionally, there is a dense streak of musical films coming out – mostly due to Covid delays – with some lags compared to last year (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Heights, Western coast), now tucked away next to Cyrano, tick, tick … Boom! Where Hansen. Supersaturation naturally leads to lower demand, while projects that decide to release to the big screen may find themselves underestimated by films heading straight for streaming. More on that below.

But is it something more fundamental than that? Is it the form itself which is a stop? Musicals, perhaps, have become too niche a format – which is why many studios and distributors have made the safer decision to use only online? Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, for its part, had been programmed for a first large screen before being quickly snapped up by Amazon. Watching tick, tick … Boom! has been a momentous occasion for any music fan, but it’s fair to say it’s a niche offering – perhaps more of a curiosity or courtier than a well-worthy big screen event experience. ‘to be invested.

It might suggest some reluctance from the studio – for example giving a thumbs up to a Glenn Close Bouelvard sunset. At the same time, people like La La Land, Fairground, same Wretched and others have all performed particularly well – so maybe that’s just grim predictions.

As for the future – the next Mathilde the musical is a little odd – across the world it will be released on Netflix, but in the UK it will get a cinematic opening – Sony is apparently hoping Roald Dahl’s national appeal will bring audiences in.

Bad, with rising star Cynthia Erivo and pop icon Ariana Grande, may deliver the goods – there are even rumors that some want to see the film split into two parts, Deathly Hallows style.

Another prediction – don’t expect West Side Story be next the greatest showman – while there may be a bump with some Oscar love awards, there are already signs that a slow first week is as good as it gets.

But if Spider Man is something to go by, at least the Holland Fred Astaire biopic could reverse what appears to be trending.



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