Despite having been on stage almost a decade less than The Phantom Of The Opera, Disney's powerhouse musical has managed to overtake Andrew Lloyd Webber's long running classic in total gross revenue over the Easter weekend. It has been suggested that being housed in a larger venue and being able to command higher ticket prices has helped The Lion King slowly close the gap between the two shows over the last few years.
Phantom Of The Opera opened on Broadway in January 1988 with the West End's original headlining cast Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton reprising their roles. The show had instantly captured the UK's hearts when it opened in London 15 months earlier and the US reaction was just as enthusiastic, with the show winning both Best Musical and Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical for Crawford at the 1998 Tony Awards. The show opened at the Majestic Theater on Broadway where it still plays today. Despite now losing the title of highest grossing Broadway musical of all time, it is still the longest-running Broadway show by quite some margin.
In reverse contrast, The Lion King originally debuted in America and success there spawned the current UK show. It followed in the footsteps of the wildly successful 1994 Disney Movie for which Elton John and Tim Rice had collaborated for the soundtrack, with the stage incarnation directed by Julie Taymor. It premiered on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater in October 1997 and later transferred to the Minskoff Theater in June 2006 where it currently resides. As well as picking up Best Musical at the 1998 Tony Awards the show also took home Best Choreography, Direction, Costume Design, Scenic Design and Lighting Design. The UK version opened at the Lyceum Theatre in London in October 1999, two years after its Broadway debut.
Trade group The Broadway League has measured The Lion King's Broadway total ticket takings as $854,038,152 compared to Phantom's $853,122,847.
Book Lion King tickets online now.
[posted by James, 11/04/2012]