The success of Stage to Screen productions

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.

A recent report by has taken audience based scoring data from Rotten Tomatoes (for films) and Show-Score (for stage shows), to show which audiences prefer*.

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.

Results report of Stage to Screen adaptions

Mame 88% 
(vs 49% screen score)

Into the Woods 88%
(vs 49% screen score)

A Chorus Line 92%
(vs 62% screen score)

Rock of Ages 83%
(vs 55% screen score)

Cats 78%
(vs 54% screen score)

Mamma Mia! 86%
(vs 66% screen score)

Annie (1982) 86%
(vs 69% screen score)

Hello, Dolly! 91%
(vs 76% screen score)

Les Misérables 92%
(vs 79% screen score)

Rent 93%
(vs 83% screen score)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon of Barber of Fleet Street 91%
(vs 81% screen score)

The King and I 90%
(vs 83% screen score)

La Cage aux Folles 90%
(vs 85% screen score)

Oklahoma! 80%
(vs 76% screen score)

Oliver! 85%
(vs 81% screen score)

Phantom of the Opera (2005) 87%
(vs 84% screen score)

Cabaret 89%
(vs 87% screen score)

All data was collected and analysed on 21st November 2019 using audience based scoring systems from Rotten Tomatoes and Show-Score, which scores Broadway & Off-Broadway and in theatres in New Jersey, DC and London.

If multiple movies were found, e.g The Lion King (1994 & 2019), we used the original version which predates the stage musical version. Not all stage musicals to movies were recorded (e.g Legally Blonde) due to no data found in the specific scoring systems used. If no audience score was available in Rotten Tomatoes, we used the Tomatometer critic score for the on-screen equivalents and live TV versions.

Reports collated by


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