Hollywood Movies Adapted for Broadway: Which Was Better?

The first Broadway musical made out of a movie was probably the 1942 film “My Sister Eileen” with Rosalind Russell, which became the 1953 Broadway musical ‘Wonderful Town.” Other vintage examples: “The Apartment” (1960) became “Promises, Promises” (1968); “All About Eve” (1950) became “Applause” (1970), which was the first musical based on a movie to win the Tony for Best Musical. But Hollywood arguably became the go-to source for Broadway some three decades ago. Two of Broadway’s longest-running musicals, “The Lion King” and “Aladdin,” were based on (Disney animated) movies, and this year alone, a movie was the inspiration for three of the new Broadway musicals — “Mr. Saturday Night,” “Almost Famous,” and, opening later this month, “Some Like It Hot.” At least two are planned next year — “New York, New York” and “Back to the Future.”

How do they compare? Which have been better, the Hollywood version or the Broadway version; or have each been as good (or as bad) in their own way? Those are the questions I asked in a poll of several such pairs. Below are the winning results, with my own take on two more.

Aladdin: Each in their own way just as good

Almost Famous: Hollywood

Beetlejuice: Each in their own way just as good. (That choice squeaked by, with only 36 percent plurality. I personally think the Hollywood version was better)

Frozen: Hollywood

Hairspray: Broadway

The Lion King: Each in their own way just as good

Mean Girls; Hollywood

Moulin Rouge: Hollywood

Mr. Saturday Night: Hollywood

Waitress: Broadway

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

1 thought on “Hollywood Movies Adapted for Broadway: Which Was Better?

  1. In many ways, the stage shows of musical movies are better- a lot of that comes from the addition of songs which improves the character and story and partly from the power of live theater

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