Phantom Is Biggest Box Office Winner EverDate: 13 December 1999
Forget cinema, Andrew Lloyd Webber's blockbuster stage musical The Phantom of the Opera has been declared the most successful money-making show of the century. It has grossed more than £1.82 billion in worldwide box office sales, putting Hollywood rivals such as Titanic (which grossed £1.12 billion), Jurassic Park (£560 million), the latest Star Wars instalment (£550 million) and the entire James Bond series of 20 films (£610 million) in the shade.
The original West End production of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux which also spawned two films, premiered in October 1986 for a production cost of £3 million. That initial investment has now been paid back 600 times over.
The Phantom of the Opera has since been seen by more than 50 million people in 91 cities in 15 countries around the world and it is still playing to sell-out audiences at London's Her Majesty's Theatre where it is closing in on 5,500 performances. New productions will soon be opening in Belgium and Mexico City, bringing the number of current productions worldwide to nine.
The Phantom of the Opera made international stars of its original leads, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. The musical is now being adapted for film, with Hollywood star Antonio Banderas rumoured as the lead, a casting possibility which has angered scores of Crawford devotees who have waged a high profile campaign to secure him the film role.
The Phantom of the Opera is currently booking to 24 June 2000 at Her Majesty's Theatre.