Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes #28: Top 10 Highest Grossing Musical Films of All Time

Okay, you’re probably going to throw a variety of fruits, vegetables, and possibly fecal matter at me, but… I still haven’t seen The Greatest Showman.  I KNOW, OKAY.  From what I’ve heard, I’m majorly missing out.  Facebook especially is riddled with parodies of the film, songs from the soundtrack being shared, and glowing reviews, including this one from my friend that sort of encompasses The Greatest Showman experience:

FINALLY saw The Greatest Showman today and the only part I didn’t like was when I had to turn to the guy next to me and ask him to stop singing because he was louder than the show…

With domestic earnings of $137,370,816 and foreign earnings of $153,097,681, The Greatest Showman–as of me writing this–has earned a total of $290,468,497 worldwide.  What began with a bumpy start has quietly bloomed into a film with a surprising amount of endurance, in large part due to word-of-mouth referrals.  But, in the view of box office success, where exactly does The Greatest Showman currently sit?

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musical Films of All Time

I love musicals, and I love it when they hit theatres.  This probably why it’s such an atrocity that I have yet to see The Greatest Showman, but I promise I will repent of that soon!  Still, with its remarkable success, I was left wondering where that left it in comparison to other music films.

So, let’s look at the top 10 highest grossing musical films since 1974, according to Box Office Mojo.  Oh, and just for fun, I’ll include my favorite songs from each musical.  Well, those ones that I’ve seen, at least.

#10 – Hairspray (2007)

Already we have another Zac Efron performance–you go, Glen Coco!  I know that remakes, not to mention stage-to-film adaptations, can leave a lot of people feeling grouchy, but I truly enjoyed 2007’s Hairspray.  Nikki Blonksy was a dream Tracy casting, and the production was just as bright and hilarious as the stage musical.  And, of course, Alison Janney steals every scene she’s in.


Hairspray is an all-out satirical war on racial and socially motivated phobias, remaining relevant to this day.  Regardless of the over-the-top hilarities, Hairspray works to show us a deeper message of love and friendship, and how our bonds with people are not determined by racial, social, or cultural boundaries.

My favorite song will forever be, “Good Morning Baltimore”.  Again, Blonksy is a dream to hear and see, and, of course, the flasher is a welcome addition to any song.

#9 – Enchanted (2007)

Enchanted takes the archetypal Disney Princess and throws her into the real world.  Acting as both a homage and a parody of the Disney model for animated features, Enchanted re-imagines traditional fairy tale tropes, pairing a cynical worldview with the impossible standards of Disney films and watching these polar worlds collide.


Overall, Enchanted finds its prowess in its comedy, musical numbers, and its take on Disney storytelling.  The film simply aimed to please viewers, and it had absolutely no problem accomplishing that.  Honestly, the casting is so perfect that any qualms that you may have about the film are quickly overridden by the enjoyment you experience from a well put together film.

Although I love “So Close”, the best song in the film for me has to be “That’s How You Know”.  Not only does it poke fun at musicals as a whole (“He knows this song too?”), but it’s an epic number full of some top-notch performing.  Amy Adams is a divine Giselle!

#8 – Into the Woods (2014)

Proving the Disney is the movie musical giant, the list continues with Into the Woods, Disney’s adaptation of the very popular stage musical.  Generously respectful for its source material, Into the Woods was lauded for its production value and casting choices.  Meryl Streep’s performance earned her Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress.


Again, this is a musical that is challenging the conventional fairy tale ending.  Edits to the film in order to make it more family friendly–including cutting nine songs from the original musical–did nothing to prevent fan and critical acclaim from many, as well as three Academy Award nominations.

For me, this isn’t my favorite musical film, but I did enjoy the musical, most especially “No One is Alone”.

#7 – The Greatest Showman (2017)

AH-HA!  Here is it, the film everyone has been waiting for!  Currently, at the seventh highest grossing musical film of all time, I wish I could say more but, again, I have yet to see it.  However, I can say the visuals are stunning, and the production value is insane.  I’m excited to see this film.


#6 – Mamma Mia! (2008)

Let me just first say that I am a huge ABBA fan.  To say that I’m excited for the Mamma Mia! sequel, and the fact that they’re doing “Fernando” in it, would be an understatement.  But we’re talking about the first one.  The one that started it all.  The one with that wedding dress that I wanted so freaking bad.  The costumes, the set, the scenery, all displayed in one beautifully rendered film.


While Pierce Brosnan’s performance was, uh… questionable, Mamma Mia! is an otherwise masterful presentation of both the music and the classic hits of ABBA.  Exploring the impact of growing older and reconciling with the past as well as the future, Mamma Mia! explores the bonds we create as we walk through life as well as the ones that we yearn for.

While I have a lot of love for basically every single song in this musical film, I have the softest of spots for “Slipping Through My Fingers”.  A favorite ABBA song of mine to begin with, the cinematics placed with it creates a particularly beautiful scene between mother and daughter.  And, considering I now have two little girls, it may or may not make me a little teary-eyed!

#5 – Les Miserables (2012)

The first musical I ever heard about was Les Miserables.  My mom is a huge fan and has seen it in theatres around the world and I grew up listening to its now nostalgic tunes.  I found the musical adaptation in 2012 to be utterly remarkable.  Beautifully raw, Les Miserables really captured the exquisite emotion of the original.  While there’s really nothing like the stage performance, this film did an excellent job of utilizing what makes a musical great.


I feel like a lot of these films on the list find themselves here because their casting choices are so spot on.  Amanda Seyfried and Hugh Jackman’s second film on the list, Les Miserables is no different, with an extensive cast that also includes Eddie Redmayne and Helena Bonham Carter, not to mention Aaron Tveit’s gorgeous voice.

Les Miserables is as iconic as musicals can get.  But, in the end, I have to choose “One Day More”.  This song is like Les Miserables wrapped up in one freaking epic piece of music, and it will forever give me chills.

#4 – La La Land (2016)

La La Land is a touch back to the nostalgia of musicals of the past–think Judy Garland or Gene Kelly–and it was a bold move that pulled out to outstanding results.  Still, these old Hollywood touches are soaked in modern issues, like the struggle to balance ambition and love.  La La Land almost works as a confession to musicals, using a strong cast, musical score, and cinematography to throw us back to those old time-y show tunes, all using the very mighty thing called love.


I love the display in La La Land of the irreparable struggle between our dreams and how love can change that.  While working as a homage to old films, La La Land flips you on your head to display what is a more realistic ending.  The challenge of the traditional Hollywood ending is really what makes this film so great.  As said in the film, it’s conflict and compromise to achieve your dreams–you can’t get everything.

Although much of La La Land is addressing going against the grain, the opening song, which is far more traditional, I remember having me in awe when I saw it in theatres.  Literally, jaw-dropping.  And again, there’s a lot of great music in this movie, but dang it, I just love “Another Day of Sun”.  It’s like everything I love about musicals in one freaking legit scene, seriously.

#3 – Chicago (2002)

I actually only just recently watched this musical, so it’s fairly timely in consideration of this post.  Honestly, I was surprised when I saw it at #3, not because it doesn’t deserve–holy heck, it most certainly does–but just because I remember honestly believing it hadn’t done well in theatres.  Okay, I was twelve, what did I know?  Long lauded as one of the greatest musical-to-film adaptations of all time, Chicago is ever bit deserving of that title and more.


While Chicago can function purely as a spectacle, it also offers an almost surprising amount of depth as well.  I think that the use of metaphor and cinematic placing alone gives this musical film a lot of strength within what is quite the brassy tale.  Performances, both acting and singing, can only be given the highest marks.  Chicago basically revived the near-dead movie musical market, and for that it should be saluted.

No questions, “Cell Block Tango” is the best song of Chicago.  The visuals, the sounds, all of it is incredibly appealing and so well structured, I don’t think any other song could possibly beat it out for best tune of the film.

#2 – Grease (1978)

Oh man.  If Les Miserables was the first musical that I listened to, Grease was the first one that I watched and watched and watched again.  This musical movie was a big part of my childhood, and its songs transcend in me even to this day.  And, dude, if we’re going to talk expert casting, Grease is the most prime example of it.  John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John–there will never be a better Sandy and Danny.


Grease shows us all the classic parts of a musical while at the same time offering some of the most iconic and infectious songs of all time.  Even if you don’t know or even like musicals, you most certainly know Grease, and can probably reenact a bit of “Grease Lightning”.  It’s somewhat of a historical piece of film and music, capturing the enthusiasms and pains of youth like no other musical has since.

This was a hard one to choose because, dang it, I just love this musical.  But, if I had to pinpoint one song, I would probably choose “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”.  Rizzo is a great character for several reasons, and Stockard Channing has a voice of dreams.

#1 – Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The success of Beauty and the Beast is almost to the point of insanity.  Considering that it’s gross earnings are almost double of #2 on the list, it’s incredibly impressive the cash grab this musical film became.  Still, it makes sense.  Based on one of the most beloved Disney Classics, Beauty and the Beast loaded itself with an existing worldwide fan base and joined that with some hefty star power and hit the nail on the head.


What truly made Beauty and the Beast shine for me were the additions made to the original storyline.  Answering a lot of plot holes from the first film, firming up Belle as a female role model, and even generating a much stronger villain in Gaston, the 2017 remake is an excellent example of improving upon source material.  Regardless of negative feelings about Emma Watson’s voice, the casting really was so well done, and provided a film that was enjoyable to audiences across the globe.

Favorite song?  No question.  You know what I’m talking about:  “Evermore”.  Dan Stevens, I already adore that guy and this performance just made it even worse.

Do you think we’ll be seeing The Greatest Showman moving up this list as it continues it’s long-endurance run in theatres?

2 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes #28: Top 10 Highest Grossing Musical Films of All Time

  1. I have no idea what the first musical I heard of is. It is either one of the classic animated Disney musicals: Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin or Lion King. Or it is Grease or Sound of Music or Annie. I have no clue which one, but it is one that I saw the movie of as a child. Stage shows: my mom said I saw Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Cats and Seussical the Musical as a child, but don’t remember seeing any of them.

    But the first stage musical I remember seeing is Wicked on Broadway with my mom. I was 12 at the time and the only thing I actually remember is the song, “Popular”, was my favorite song at the time. In middle school, I also saw Oliver but don’t remember seeing it at all.

    Many of the musicals I saw growing up were movies: All three High School Musicals, Hairspray, Mamma Mia (also saw the stage show), Enchanted and a couple others I think. I did see Wicked a 2nd time I think in high school.

    College: well, this is when I discover many musicals. The main breakthrough was Les Mis: It disproved many things: that tragic musicals exist and that I was 100% blind to heartbreak. It was the movie that began my Les Mis journey, which would eventually become an obsession. Now I have seen Les Mis on stage 5x already. Other musicals I saw live (some already saw the movie a long time ago) are Pippin, Phantom of the Opera, Sound of Music, Annie, Newsies, and I did see Wicked twice in that time. I do love Greatest Showman as well. I did see the movie of Into the Woods, but just did not like it.

    So I am a huge musical fan.


    1. My mom and you are kindred spirits, she’s seen Les Mis so many times now! The first musical that I really became obsessed with was The Phantom of the Opera, thanks to a substitute teacher playing the CD during an art project. The first musical I was taken to was Nunsense when I was little, and I’ve seen it several times throughout my life! Beauty and the Beast on Broadway back in 2000 was a magical experience, as well.

      My high school also had an excellent musical theatre program, and I was able to see shows like Anything Goes, which I really enjoyed and still listen to! I’ve never seen Wicked, but that CD was passed around all through high school; a little girl I babysat was SO into “Popular”, haha. Had it on repeat!

      Disney Classics were of course my original exposure to musicals, and I remember the excitement of High School Musical! I’m one of those people that watches every Disney Channel movie, and then some when there’s singing, haha. I really enjoyed Descendants, I can’t help it!

      I was lucky to be exposed to musicals through Disney as well as my mother and my several musically-inclined friends! I cannot accept Crybaby as one I ever want to see again, though, haha! So happy to have another musical lover reading this post!


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