Fox have announced that they are looking to convert some of their back catalogue of films into stage musicals so we can expect Star Wars: The Musical and Home Alone on Broadway in the next decade then – but considering how well musicals do at the Cinema anyway why are they not investing in making big screen musicals anymore?
In the last two decades we have seen huge box office takings and DVD sales for Moulin Rouge, Les Mis, High School Musical, Sweeney Todd, Chicago, Hairspray, Mamma Mia and dozens more yet it’s a genre that film studios seem to shy away from. For me Moulin Rouge – Baz Luhrmann’s joyous Bohemian Paris with modern pop classics re-imagined – is one of the best things he’s ever done so why do studios not snap him up to do more musicals? Why not follow up the success of Les Mis with films of other big musicals like Miss Saigon or Blood Brothers? There is a huge potential market for the films, the DVDs and the soundtracks so in business terms it appears a no brainer.
For me the “jukebox” musical has annoyed many by shoe-horning one act’s back catalogue into a storyline, but they have also opened the door to new theatre goers who would not usually set foot in them. Look at the amazing success of Matilda in London with Tim Minchin’s music bringing Roald Dahl’s classic to life – is there not scope to commission musical versions of other books and stories for both the stage and the big screen? Think of how well a musical version of “Pride and Prejudice” would do or “Bridget Jones’ Diary” (as long as Colin Firth doesn’t get a singing role in either!) it would hit the female audience perfectly and both have a proven track record both on film and in the original books.
And if all this is too complicated then why not get one of the great screen writers in Hollywood or London to pen a book and get Danny Elfman, Tim Minchin, Lord Webber or someone else to create the music for it. My issue with the latest batch of stage musicals is that they are too reliant on special effects and digital technology, this is not what the theatre does best – perhaps it would have been better to do a film of the musical Spider-Man instead of the catastrophe that is the stage show. With the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Musical there have been issues and criticism of the overuse of the technical – theatre is about the intimacy and it’s that which creates the magic not animatronics, lifts and digital displays.
So more traditional musicals on the stage and some big OTT musicals for the big screen please.