The Lion King” takes Broadway’s box-office throne

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The Lion King

The Lion King

Based on Disney’s 1994 movie of the same name, The Lion King is the new ruler of Broad­way, hav­ing now out­grossed The Phan­tom of the Opera.

Box office fig­ures released Mon­day indi­cate that The Lion King is now Broadway’s highest-grossing show of all time. Num­bers give the cumu­la­tive gross at $853,846,062, accord­ing to the musical’s pub­li­cist — just above The Phan­tom of the Opera’s $853,122,847.

For the week end­ing Sun­day, The Lion King made over $2 mil­lion, while Phan­tom drew about $1.2 mil­lion. Whereas the Dis­ney show debuted in Novem­ber 1997, Phan­tom opened in Jan­u­ary 1988.

It doesn’t sur­prise me,” said music his­to­rian and biog­ra­pher Cary Ginell, edi­tor of the sev­enth edi­tion of Broad­way Musi­cals: Show By Show. He com­pared The Lion King to a Dis­ney­land ride.

It’s a spec­ta­cle that sat­is­fies on many dif­fer­ent sen­sory ele­ments — audio, visu­ally, emo­tion­ally. It’s also good for all ages — just like Dis­ney­land is,” Ginell said.

For the kids, it’s the visual ele­ments — the col­ors, the cos­tumes and the pup­petry. For the adults, it’s Ham­let, basi­cally. And the music is not geared to one age or gen­der or race. It’s as uni­ver­sal a show can get.”

Thomas Schu­macher, pro­ducer and pres­i­dent of Dis­ney The­atri­cal Pro­duc­tions, cred­ited to Julie Tay­mor, the musical’s direc­tor, cos­tume and mask maker.

”Her vision, con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to the show and uncom­mon artistry account for this extra­or­di­nary suc­cess,” he said in a statement.

This accom­plish­ment belongs to our audi­ences, mil­lions of whom are expe­ri­enc­ing their first Broad­way show at The Lion King,” Schu­macher added. “Surely, intro­duc­ing so many to the splen­dor of live the­ater is our show’s great­est legacy.”

Fac­tors in The Lion King’s finan­cial suc­cess include a some­what larger the­ater and higher aver­age ticket prices.

Lion is on Broad­way at the 1,677-seat Min­skoff, while Phan­tom is at the 1,605-seat Majes­tic. Fig­ures released Mon­day indi­cate that The Lion King had an aver­age paid admis­sion of $155.09, while Phan­tom had a cor­re­spond­ing fig­ure of $98.97.

Phan­tom remained Broadway’s longest-running show, with over 10,000 per­for­mances. It’s also sold 14.8 mil­lion tickets.

That’s a lot more than The Lion King, the sixth longest-running show on Broad­way. It’s had over 5,900 Broad­way per­for­mances, sell­ing sold just over 10 mil­lion tickets.

Total world­wide grosses for Lion are esti­mated at $4.8 bil­lion, com­pared with $5.6 bil­lion for Phan­tom.

Lion has been seen by 64 mil­lion around the world, just about half the 130 mil­lion peo­ple who’ve seen Phan­tom.

Accord­ing to H. Todd Free­man, vice-president of oper­a­tions at ticket bro­ker Applause The­atre & Enter­tain­ment Ser­vice, Inc., The Lion King’s suc­cess can be ascribed to big visu­als, its family-friendly nature and ticket prices that were twice those for Phan­tom when it opened.

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