15 Broadway Shows That Became Successful Hollywood Movies

Musicals effectively narrate stories through the art of song and dance. Each piece and its performance conveys the emotions of the film and its characters. Some resonate with the audience enough to make them cry, while others will have them laughing. Most of the beloved musicals people know today are inspired by Broadway shows. These, in particular, are well-loved.

1. Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)

Tick, Tick... Boom! (2021)
Image Credit: 5000 Broadway Productions.

Lin-Manuel Miranda brought this semi-autobiographical musical to the silver screen. No one could pull off the over-the-top cartoonish performances better than Andrew Garfield. The enthusiasm of the soundtrack is contagious. The film conveys the complexities and pressures of turning 30 in a relatable narrative. There’s no better way to escape the stresses of life than watching this musical.

2. Chicago (2002)

Chicago (2002)
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

Only in Chicago can one find a song dedicated to the inmates on death row. Where else can people watch a musical devoted to the story of two murderous women? This scandalous Broadway play became an Oscar-winning movie. The cast left people in awe of their musical abilities. Chicago tells the tale of corruption and murder but keeps the audience laughing. This film shows the Roaring Twenties in the flashy, dark excess of the decade.

3. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Mamma Mia! (2008)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Fans of the Swedish band ABBA were immediate fans of the musical. Mamma Mia! set the record for the highest-grossing musical of its time. Who wouldn’t enjoy a summer romance set in Greece? The movie included only some of ABBA’s songs in the  Broadway production, but the emotion and laughter compensated for the missing pieces. Each character had a story and development, which intertwined at the end. Their connections with one another made people feel like a part of this loving Greek family.

4. Hairspray (2007)

Hairspray (2007)
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Despite being a romantic comedy, Hairspray manages to touch on many serious topics. Its musical numbers depict themes such as racism and sizeism. From singing a heartwarming song to discussing body positivity, there’s balance. The film respected the background and setting to remain accurate to the 1988 Broadway show (adapted from the original 1988 John Waters movie). The detailed atmosphere and costumes helped fully immerse the audience, which resulted in its success.

5. The Sound of Music (1965)

The Sound of Music (1965)
Image Credit: 20th Century-Fox.

This film’s soundtrack is considered one of the happiest sounds in the world to this day. This musical was based on the 1959 Broadway show. The magical atmosphere is almost like a fantasy. However, the story is based on the actual lives of the von Trapp family. The cheerful soundtrack surprises many people when they realize it’s set in Nazi-era Austria. The optimism is what makes the movie a classic.

6. Grease (1978)

Grease (1978)
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Even before its release in theaters, Grease was a Tony-nominated Broadway musical. The film continued the show’s success as it became an audience’s favorite. It has all the ingredients of a perfect coming-of-age teen romance movie. The summer romance and the high school setting feel dreamy and familiar. The songs carry surprising depth and intricacy for a teen romance musical. A sense of nostalgia permeates the entire movie.

7. Fiddler on The Roof (1971)

Fiddler on The Roof (1971)
Image Credit: United Artists.

Like the Broadway show, the musical film is much more complex than it lets on. The story is set in pre-revolutionary Russia, about 1905. Watching the film feels like watching the surreal moment before a tragedy. The characters demonstrate the social norms and political uneasiness of the period. The light-hearted musical numbers are laced with the knowledge of what will come. People who are fans of this musical and show will enjoy the version with the director’s commentary.

8. Dreamgirls (2006)

Dreamgirls (2006)
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Dreamgirls does a great job of portraying the otherwise white and black world in shades of gray. The audience gains insight into what it means to be African-American. In the film, a trio of female singers tries to make it in the music industry. Each of the songs pours emotion into the audience. The musical proved to be more than just a commercial success. The catchy soundtrack is bound to stay in every person’s mind.

9. Cabaret (1972)

Cabaret (1972)
Image Credit: Allied Artists.

The original Broadway production has inspired many revivals since its 1966 premiere. The movie is still iconic to this day. Dark themes are explored through Cabaret as it’s set on the cusp of World War II. Everything is spot on, from the performances to the set design. The film takes a different approach by removing parts of the show. The result is a bolder, edgier storyline. With eight Oscar wins, Cabaret quickly proved itself one of the best musicals of the 70s.

10. The Prom (2020)

The Prom (2020)
Image Credit: Ryan Murphy Productions.

Released in the year of the pandemic, The Prom was the feel-good musical that everyone needed. Every moment made the audience laugh or cry — sometimes both. Each song is just as intoxicating as it was on Broadway. The star-studded cast tugged the audience’s heartstrings with their performances, while the bright colors and energy caught the viewers’ attention. It leaves people with the message of acceptance, equality, and love.

11. Funny Girl (1968)

Funny Girl (1968)
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

For Barbra Streisand’s first time in a film, she proved captivating and charming. However, her bold, clear voice captured the hearts of viewers. The film perfectly captured the essence of the Broadway show. The story follows a courageous woman who sings her heart out as she finds someone to take a chance on her. Streisand glowed in the role of the protagonist. The movie’s version of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is still popular.

12. Mean Girls (2024)

Mean Girls (2024)
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Mean Girls has had quite a journey. The original movie inspired a Broadway show, which then inspired this year’s Mean Girls. The primary Broadway cast was kept for the movie. The musical captured the original movie’s iconic lines while portraying the show’s musical essence. It also added a flair for Gen Z, which made the musical stand out from the rest. No one could’ve embodied the Regina character as well as Renee Rap. Renee’s vocals are a powerhouse, bringing the film together.

13. West Side Story (1961)

West Side Story (1961)
Image Credit: United Artists.

The Broadway show was inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which is obvious in the musical. The movie is a forbidden love story between the characters belonging to two separate gangs. The film is famous for its outstanding choreography. The dynamic dances grasp the youthful vibrancy of the street gangs. With its storytelling and musical numbers, the musical is a work of abstract art.

14. Les Miserables (2012)

Les Miserables (2012)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Les Miserables has proved to be a favorite from books to shows to films. It was the second longest-running musical in Broadway history. Despite being three hours long, the film leaves the audience wanting more. The story is rich in its colors, characters, and songs. Each musical performance is powerful and gritty. It pierces the souls of the audience. Every detail portrays the resilience and hope of the characters.

15. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The musical is a perfect translation of the Broadway show. The timing, pacing, and camerawork are enthralling. The story begins as a lyrical comedy about a carnivorous plant. However, it manages to stir many dramatic emotions within the viewers. It wasn’t an immediate hit on its release but became number one when it was released on home video. The film leaves messages of empathy and compassion within the viewers.

+ posts