With the recent film adaption of the stage musical Cats released in cinemas (to less than positive reviews), it is an interesting question to ask as to whether stage shows can ever be successfully adapted for the screen and on the flip side, whether films can be successfully adapted for the stage.
For stage shows which have gone on to be adapted for the screen (such as Into The Woods, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables and the newly released Cats) the results overwhelmingly show that not a single film adaption of a stage musical has gone on to be preferred by viewers. Whilst a few (The Phantom of the Opera, Oliver! and Cabaret) have come pretty close, the majority of film adaptions have had disappointing results compared to the beloved stage shows.
Cats received a rather embarrassing 54% score for the new cinema release compared to 78% for the stage musical and given that not a single show in this list has beaten the score for the stage show, the answer seems to be ‘no – you can’t adapt a stage show to the silver screen successfully.
For productions that have been brought to the stage by adapting films (Matilda, School of Rock, Hairspray, Evita), the results tell a different story with an almost 50/50 split between whether the stage versions are preferred over the original film versions. Billy Elliot, Aladdin, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Frozen are some of the films that viewers still prefer over their adapted stage shows.
So, according to these audience scores, films that are adapted for the stage tend to be more successful than stage shows which are adapted to the silver screen. But with musicals like Sunset Boulevard and the rumoured Fun Home being adapted to the film screen, it doesn’t look like these reports are worrying Hollywood producers from having a go!
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