Surpasses “Phantom of the Opera,” Still Behind “The Lion King”
This week, Wicked became even wickeder. No one mourns the wicked, and that’s because Wicked is still alive and kicking on Broadway. This musical with a book by Winnie Holzman, and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, has now officially surpassed The Phantom of the Opera for the second highest grossing Broadway show of all time. The title for highest grossing show of all time presently rests with The Lion King. As of last week’s box office receipts, Wicked has now grossed a total of $1.12 billion, beating out The Phantom of the Opera, which has now grossed a total of $1.11 billion. It was only a matter of time, as Wicked sells at the top of the leaderboard year-round, but The Phantom of the Opera has slow weeks throughout the year, and ebbs and flows according to touristic seasons. As for The Lion King, the musical based off the Disney animation film of the same name, directed by Julie Taymor, that show has logged a total of $1.38 billion to date. Wicked began previews on October 8, 2003, ahead of an opening night on October 30, 2008 and has run for 5,747 performances and counting. Meanwhile, The Lion King has been running for much longer, having begun previews on October 15, 1997, ahead of an opening night on November 13, 1997. That show has now run for a total of 8,222 performances and counting. While Wicked and The Lion King are often neck and neck for the top box office gross each week, with frequent competition from Aladdin, Hamilton, and The Book of Mormon, The Phantom of the Opera has been running for significantly longer, but is rarely in the top five. The Phantom of the Opera began performances on January 9, 1988, ahead of an opening night on January 26, 1988, and has since run for over 12,278 shows. While it has been a bona fide hit for decades, Phantom has now fallen behind Wicked in terms of total box office gross earned to date.
While it looks unlikely for Wicked to surpass The Lion King anytime soon, given that the latter had an 11 year head start, Wicked did beat The Lion King in terms of one record. Over a year ago, Wicked reached the milestone of crossing the $1 billion gross revenue mark for the Broadway production, earning that figure in 12.5 years, while it took The Lion King 16 years to achieve the same honor. It is true that the Broadway industry has been snowballing in recent years, with the advent of dynamic pricing and general inflation, so in that regard, Wicked has an advantage of beginning performances more recently, and thus having a greater portion of its time on Broadway be in the more lucrative years. In any case, these figures only refer to the Broadway productions, but Wicked is significantly more profitable than that. The global figure for Wicked, taking into account other national and international productions, is approximately $4 billion. This makes Wicked one of the most lucrative properties for one of its producers, Universal Pictures, even compared to its film properties. In fact, The Lion King became the highest grossing global intellectual property in any medium as of 2013, when it grossed over $6.2 billion worldwide. These examples prove that, at least in the extreme cases, theatre can be an extremely good investment, in some cases even more so than film. Wicked is officially a global smash hit, and the Broadway production has earned another achievement to add to its hefty register of success.
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