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The Best Musicals Based on Movies

Updated April 6, 2020 9.2k votes 831 voters 28k views71 items

List RulesOnly stage musicals that cite films as their original source material - no adaptations directly from other mediums

List of musicals based on movies, ranked by fans and casual critics. Stage theatre has been a primary form of entertainment for thousands of years, in the forms of plays, operas, and musicals. Around the world, dozens of theatrical performances are brought to life on stages big and small. Most notably, the theatre districts of Broadway in Manhattan and the West End in London are home to the catchiest, most elaborate, most memorable musicals. Nothing is more inspirational than experiencing the art of actors who can also sing and dance with grace and style in front of a large audience of people. It’s no wonder that plays and musicals have remained so popular throughout the years! What are the best musicals based on films?

This list includes the greatest plays and musicals that were inspired by movies, ranked according to the opinions of voters. Which soundtracks have you played nonstop? Which lyrics have you memorized? Some of these plays on this list were smash hit successful Broadway productions that scored several awards and made the actors instant successes. Others are newer shows that are still in trial runs for smaller audiences in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.

In addition to direct adaptations from film to stage, this list includes musicals inspired by movies that weren't musicals to begin with. Wondering why you don't remember the songs from Billy Elliott or Sunset Boulevard? That's because there weren't any. 
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  • 1

    The Lion King (1997)

    Mark Mancina , Elton John
    270
    104

    CharactersScar, Simba, Mufasa, Pumbaa, Nala

    The Lion King (1994)
    The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Walt Disney Animation Studios' animated feature film of the same name with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Roger Allers and Irene...  more

    #8 of 66 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals#3 of 43 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 90s#7 of 26 The Best Broadway Shows Right Now

  • 2

    Heathers (2010)

    234
    93
    Heathers (1988)
  • 3

    Beauty and the Beast (1993)

    Alan Menken , Linda Woolverton
    232
    94

    CharactersBelle, Gaston, Beast, Babette, Wardrobe

    Beauty and the Beast (1991)
    Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton. Adapted from Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning 1991 animated...  more

    #3 of 9 All The Broadway Musicals Based On Disney Movies, Ranked#2 of 39 The Best Broadway Shows for Kids#7 of 14 The Best Musicals by Alan Menken

  • 4

    Newsies (2011)

    208
    86
    Newsies (1992)
  • 5

    Little Shop of Horrors (1982)

    Alan Menken , Howard Ashman
    196
    83

    CharactersOrin Scrivello, DDS, Seymour Krelborn, Audrey II, Crystal

    Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
    Little Shop of Horrors is a comedy horror rock musical, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh....  more

    #12 of 45 The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway#14 of 49 The Best Grammy-Nominated Musical Theater Albums of the 1980s

  • 6

    Hairspray (2002)

    Scott Wittman , Marc Shaiman
    200
    91

    CharactersVelma Von Tussle, Edna Turnblad, Little Inez, Seaweed J Stupps, Motormouth Maybelle

    Hairspray (2007), which was based on the movie Hairspray (1988), dir. by John Waters
    Hairspray is an American musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on John Waters’s 1988 film of the same name. The...  more
  • 7
    unlimitedbroadway added

    Chicago

    Bob Fosse , Fred Ebb
    183
    80

    CharactersVelma Kelly, Billy Flynn, Roxie Hart, Amos Hart, Matron "Mama" Morton

    Chicago (Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville) is an American musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Jazz-age Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926...  more
  • 8

    Legally Blonde: The Musical (2007)

    Heather Hach , Laurence O'Keefe
    188
    85

    CharactersElle Woods, Professor Callahan, Serena McGuire, Paulette Bonafonté, Margot

    Legally Blonde (2001) and the novel by Amanda Brown
    Legally Blonde is a musical with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach. The story is based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of...  more
  • 9

    Mary Poppins (2004)

    Richard M. Sherman , Robert B. Sherman
    187
    87

    CharactersMary Poppins, Michael Banks, Jane Banks, Bert, George Banks

    Mary Poppins (1964) and the book series by P.L. Travers
    Mary Poppins is a musical with music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (the Sherman Brothers) and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, and a script by...  more
  • 10

    The Little Mermaid (2007)

    Alan Menken , Howard Ashman
    167
    80

    CharactersAriel, Ursula, Prince Eric, Flounder, Sebastian

    The Little Mermaid (1989)
    The Little Mermaid is a stage musical produced by Disney Theatrical, based on the animated 1989 Disney film of the same name and the classic story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen about a...  more
  • 11

    Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (2003)

    147
    75
    Aladdin (1992)
  • 12

    Singin' in the Rain (1983)

    138
    73
    Singin in the Rain (1952)
  • 13

    Shrek: The Musical (2008)

    152
    94
    Shrek (2001), which was based on the book Shrek! (1991) by William Steig
  • 14
    DeborahTragasz added

    School of Rock

    55
    17
    School of Rock is a rock musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes. Based on the 2003 film of the same name, with a screenplay by Mike White, the...  more
  • 15

    The Producers (2001)

    Mel Brooks , Thomas Meehan
    93
    67

    CharactersCarmen Ghia, Roger De Bris, Leo Bloom, Franz Liebkind, Max Bialystock

    The Producers (1968), dir. by Mel Brooks
    The Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks' 1968 film of the same name, with lyrics written by Brooks and music composed by Brooks and arranged by Glen Kelly and...  more
  • 16

    Footloose (1998)

    Eric Carmen , Sammy Hagar
    92
    68

    CharactersRusty Rodriguez, Ariel Moore, Ren McCormack, Chuck Cranston, Vi Moore

    Footloose (1984)
    Footloose is a 1998 musical based on the 1984 film of the same name. In 2011 there was a remake of the original movie (directed by Craig Brewer and starring Juliane Hough and Kenny Wormald). The...  more
  • 17

    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2002)

    Richard M. Sherman , Robert B. Sherman
    80
    56
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a stage musical based on the 1968 film produced by Albert R. Broccoli. The music and lyrics were written by Richard and Robert Sherman with book by Jeremy Sams....  more
  • 18
    89
    66

    CharactersBilly Elliot, Debbie Wilkinson, Tony Elliot, Mr. Braithwaite, George Watson

    Billy Elliot (2000)
    Billy Elliot the Musical is a musical based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot. The music is by Elton John, and the book and lyrics are by Lee Hall, who wrote the film's screenplay. The plot revolves...  more
  • 19

    Kinky Boots (2012)

    83
    61
    Kinky Boots (2005)
  • 20

    Spamalot (2004)

    Neil Innes , John Du Prez
    94
    74

    CharactersPatsy, Sir Bors, Brother Maynard, Sir Bedevere, The Strangely Flatulent

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
    Monty Python's Spamalot is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, but it differs from...  more

    Every Song in Spamalot, Ranked by Singability#45 of 87 The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time#75 of 186 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked

  • 21

    Sister Act: The Musical (2009)

    Alan Menken , Glenn Slater
    78
    59

    CharactersDeloris Van Cartier, Mother Superior, Sister Mary Robert, Sister Mary Patrick, Sister Mary Lazarus

    Sister Act (1992)
    Sister Act is a musical based on the hit 1992 film of the same name with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, and additional book material by Douglas...  more
  • 22

    Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002)

    Jeanine Tesori , Richard Morris
    74
    57

    CharactersMiss Dorothy Brown, Mrs. Meers, Oriental #2, Millie Dillmount, Jimmy Smith

    Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
    Thoroughly Modern Millie is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan. It is based on the 1967 film of the same name, which itself was...  more
  • 23
    JulieBartlett added

    A Very Potter Musical

    StarKid Productions
    62
    45

    CharactersHarry Potter, Ron Weasly, Ginny Weasly, Severus Snape, Professor Dumbledore

  • 24

    Nine (1982)

    Maury Yeston , Arthur Kopit
    66
    51

    CharactersGuido Contini, Carla, Claudia Jenssen, Saraghina, Luisa Contini

    8½ (1963), dir. by Federico Fellini
    Nine is a musical, initially created and written by Maury Yeston as a class-project in Lehman Engel's BMI Music Theatre Workshop in 1973. It was later developed with a book by Mario Fratti, and then...  more
  • 25

    Once (2011)

    64
    55
    Once (2006)
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List Rules: Only stage musicals that cite films as their original source material - no adaptations directly from other mediums