The Lion King Is Now Top Earner in Box-Office History

News   The Lion King Is Now Top Earner in Box-Office History Disney's The Lion King, which played its 7,000th Broadway performance Sept. 3, is now the top-earning title in box-office history for both stage productions and films, according to the Associated Press.

Alton Fitzgerald White in <i>The Lion King</i>
Alton Fitzgerald White in The Lion King Photo by Joan Marcus

The Lion King boasts a worldwide gross of over $6.2 billion, more than any other stage work or film in history. Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera previously held the record, with a worldwide gross of $6 billion. In film the title is held by "Avatar," which grossed $2.8 billion worldwide.

Thomas Schumacher, president and producer at Disney Theatrical Productions, told AP, "It's difficult not to become emotional at this realization of the show's impact.… Our [original] goal…was to tell the story purely and theatrically so that audiences could feel it in their heart. And, to this day, that is the audience experience whether they see the show in Madrid; Appleton, Wisconsin; South Africa; Tokyo or Broadway. Of that, we are deeply proud."

The Lion King was also the first show in Broadway history to pass $1 billion in cumulative gross, a threshold also crossed by the North American tour and, most recently, the Hamburg production.

There are ten concurrent worldwide productions of the musical. Five of those productions have been running for 10 years or longer. Two new productions have recently been announced: for Mexico City’s Telcel Theatre and the new Walt Disney Grand Theatre at Shanghai Disney Resort.

In the Broadway company Scar is played by Gareth Saxe, Alton Fitzgerald White is Mufasa, Nteliseng Nkhela is Rafiki, Jeffrey Kuhn portrays Zazu, Ben Jeffrey is Pumbaa, and Fred Berman is Timon.  The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice's music from "The Lion King" animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from "Rhythm of the Pride Lands," an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer.

The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed "The Lion King" animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film's screenplay. Other members of the creative team include Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor). 

Directed by Julie Taymor — who became the first woman to ever receive a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical — The Lion King has become an international hit with productions playing all around the globe. In fact, the Elton John-Tim Rice musical has won over 30 major awards. Those include six Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical; eight Drama Desk Awards; six Outer Critics Circle Awards; two Sir Laurence Oliviers; the Evening Standard Award for Best Theatrical Event; and three Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.

The Minskoff Theatre is located at 200 W. 45th St.

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