793 voters

The Best Musicals Based on Movies

Updated April 6, 2020 9.3k votes 793 voters 26.6k 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. 
  • The Lion King (1997)1

    The Lion King (1997)

    Mark Mancina , Elton John

    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...  more

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    #7 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals#3 of 43 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 90s

  • Heathers (2010)2

    Heathers (2010)

    Heathers (1988)
  • Newsies (2011)3

    Newsies (2011)

    Newsies (1992)
  • Beauty and the Beast (1993)4

    Beauty and the Beast (1993)

    Alan Menken , Linda Woolverton

    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...  more

    More Beauty and the Beast 

    #4 of 9 All The Broadway Musicals Based On Disney Movies, Ranked#4 of 39 The Best Broadway Shows for Kids

  • Hairspray (2002)5

    Hairspray (2002)

    Scott Wittman , Marc Shaiman

    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...  more
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1982)6

    Little Shop of Horrors (1982)

    Alan Menken , Howard Ashman

    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...  more

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    #14 of 49 The Best Grammy-Nominated Musical Theater Albums of the 1980s#2 of 45 The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

  • Legally Blonde: The Musical (2007)7

    Legally Blonde: The Musical (2007)

    Heather Hach , Laurence O'Keefe

    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...  more
  • Chicago8


    Bob Fosse , Fred Ebb

    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,...  more
  • Mary Poppins (2004)9

    Mary Poppins (2004)

    Richard M. Sherman , Robert B. Sherman

    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...  more
  • The Little Mermaid (2007)10

    The Little Mermaid (2007)

    Alan Menken , Howard Ashman

    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...  more
  • Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (2003)11

    Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (2003)

    Aladdin (1992)
  • Singin' in the Rain (1983)12

    Singin' in the Rain (1983)

    Singin in the Rain (1952)
  • Shrek: The Musical (2008)13

    Shrek: The Musical (2008)

    Shrek (2001), which was based on the book Shrek! (1991) by William Steig
  • School of Rock14
    School of Rock is a rock musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and...  more
  • Footloose (1998)15

    Footloose (1998)

    Eric Carmen , Sammy Hagar

    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...  more
  • Billy Elliot: The Musical (2005)16

    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...  more
  • Kinky Boots (2012)17

    Kinky Boots (2012)

    Kinky Boots (2005)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2002)18

    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2002)

    Richard M. Sherman , Robert B. Sherman
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a stage musical based on the 1968 film produced by Albert R....  more
  • The Producers (2001)19

    The Producers (2001)

    Mel Brooks , Thomas Meehan

    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...  more
  • Spamalot (2004)20

    Spamalot (2004)

    Neil Innes , John Du Prez

    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...  more


    Every Song in Spamalot, Ranked by Singability#45 of 87 The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

  • Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002)21

    Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002)

    Jeanine Tesori , Richard Morris

    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,...  more
  • A Very Potter Musical22

    A Very Potter Musical

    StarKid Productions

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

  • Sister Act: The Musical (2009)23

    Sister Act: The Musical (2009)

    Alan Menken , Glenn Slater

    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,...  more
  • Once (2011)24

    Once (2011)

    Once (2006)
  • Carrie (1988)25

    Carrie (1988)

    Dean Pitchford , Lawrence D. Cohen

    CharactersCarrie White, Margaret White, Chris Hargensen, Sue Snell, Tommy Ross

     Carrie (1976)
    Carrie: The Musical is a musical with a book by Lawrence D. Cohen, lyrics by Dean Pitchford,...  more