Producers of the production have estimated that 15 million people across North America have seen the musical since 2002. ”We remain overwhelmed by the enduring response to the show and are enormously thankful to our patrons – new and returning – for their continued enthusiasm and support,” said Jack Eldon, a vice president at Disney Theatrical Productions.
The Lion King is based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same title, with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. The plot follows a young lion named Simba as he comes of age and has to take his dead father’s place at the head of his pride, which is taken over by Simba’s treacherous uncle Scar. The plot is loosely based on the Shakespeare play Hamlet. The musical production is known for its elaborate animal costumes and puppets.
The show’s producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, Thomas Schumacher, points to the woman who adapted the film for the stage as being the source of the play’s huge success. ”We’re humbled by this milestone, a feat that can be explained in two words: Julie Taymor. Her vision, continued commitment to the show and uncommon artistry account for this extraordinary success,” Schumacher said last April when the show became the highest grossing show ever on Broadway.
The Lion King may soon surpass Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera as the top grossing musical production of all time. Phantom has grossed $1.5 billion in box office sales, but the production has been running since 1989. The Phantom of the Opera is based on a French novel by Gaston Leroux, and was adapted into a 2004 film by Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) subsidiary Warner Bros.
The Lion King’s higher ticket prices have helped it catch up to Phantom, which is currently the longest-running theatrical production of all time.
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