The interconnected world of talent that exists between Broadway and Hollywood means that there is a lot of overlap when a project becomes successful. When a story is a hit in one medium, it seems natural that there would be a way to bring it to the other. Here are four famous movies that were adapted for the Broadway stage.
“Singin’ in the Rain”
This classic film seems so suited for adaptation to the stage that it may surprise you that it took over 30 years to reach Broadway. This 1952 musical film tells a story about Hollywood’s transition from silent films during the 1920s. With many memorable songs, a lot of people assume that “Singin’ in the Rain” was a stage production before it became a film, but this is not the case. The film came to be when a new script was commissioned by Arthur Freed to feature songs that had been previously written for other movies.
The musical opened on the West End in London in 1983 before moving to Broadway in 1985, receiving a lukewarm reaction from "The New York Times", which mostly praised the rain effects employed at the theatre. However, the consensus was that the actors employed to recreate the roles once filled by much more famous counterparts failed to sell the characters.
Another film whose unique blend of camp, theatrics, and song makes it seem like the movie must have been adapted from a stage musical, “Moulin Rouge!” is, in fact, a completely original, Academy Award-winning film from Baz Luhrmann.
When the movie premiered, there was speculation about a stage version being produced. However, a lack of interest from the movie’s stars, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, sidelined that project. It took until 2019 for the musical to reach Broadway.
The sharp 2004 comedy classic starring Lindsay Lohan and written by Tina Fey may not seem like an obvious choice to be adapted for the stage. Nevertheless, in 2018 a musical adaptation found its way to Broadway.
In fact, the script was rewritten for the stage by Fey herself and featured music that was composed by Fey’s husband, Jeff Richmond. The play faithfully recreates the story of a young girl’s journey through the high school hierarchy of popularity and her interactions with the most popular girls in the school.
The stage adaptation received positive reviews, noting that while the songcraft was middling by Broadway standards, the strength of the writing and the plot helped keep the production afloat. Despite this, the play was nominated for “Best Musical” at the 2018 Tonys, along with many other awards, and it remains on Broadway today.
The first of the modern era of Spider-Man films, 2002’s “Spider-Man” may be an important turning point for superhero movies. This was the first superhero movie that successfully married CGI effects and a human story and paved the way for the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” had similar hopes for the Broadway adaptation. Using modern stage production techniques, they hoped to create a whole new audience for Broadway shows. However, the production, which began in 2002, suffered numerous setbacks. The first was the death of producer Tony Adams in 2005. Stories of cost overruns plagued the adaptation well into 2009, and the announced release date of December 2010 was delayed six times amid rumors of injuries and rewrites.
The show opened to negative reviews, and the expense of running such an elaborate production continued to be scrutinized. In the end, the show was a critical and commercial failure, with strong ticket sales in the beginning failing to offset the show’s massive budget.