Entertainment

The Best Musicals Based on Movies

List Rules
Only 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. 
Photo:
list ordered by
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Newsies (2011)
    7

    Newsies (2011)

    Newsies (1992)
  • Heathers (2010)
    8

    Heathers (2010)

    Heathers (1988)
  • Singin' in the Rain (1983)
    9

    Singin' in the Rain (1983)

    Singin in the Rain (1952)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (2003)
    13

    Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (2003)

    Aladdin (1992)
  • Shrek: The Musical (2008)
    14

    Shrek: The Musical (2008)

    Shrek (2001), which was based on the book Shrek! (1991) by William Steig
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Kinky Boots (2012)
    17

    Kinky Boots (2012)

    Kinky Boots (2005)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 42nd Street (1933), which was based on the novel (1932) by Bradford Ropes
    42nd Street is an American musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer, and music by Harry Warren. The 1980 Broadway production, produced by David ...more
  • Once (2011)
    21

    Once (2011)

    Once (2006)
  • Anastasia is a musical with music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and a book by Terrence McNally. Based on the 1997 film of the same name, the musical tells the story of the legend of ...more
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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