'Lion King' first Broadway show to hit US$1bil at box office

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 17 Oct 2013

'Lion King' has been on Broadway for 16 years and hailed for its innovative use of puppets as stand-ins for animal characters. – Base Entertainment

Long-running, award-winning production will reach milestone this week or next.

THE folks at Disney Theatrical Group are humming Hakunna Matata this morning. The Lion King is on the verge of achieving what even musical mega-hits like Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera have yet to accomplish: becoming the first Broadway show in history to cross the US$1bil (RM3.15bil) mark at the box office.

The show should hit that number either this week or next, a spokesman for the company said.

The Tony Award-winning show has been on Broadway in New York City for 16 years and has been hailed for its innovative use of puppets as stand-ins for animal characters and the stylish direction of Julie Taymor.

“This humbling milestone is a testament to the vision and artistry of Julie Taymor,” Thomas Schumacher, president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, said in a statement.

“For nearly 17 years she has been The Lion King’s guiding creative force and an inspiration to the show’s brilliant cast, musicians and crew. But above all, we thank our loving audiences who continue to be moved and delighted night after night at the Minskoff Theatre and all around the world.”

The selection of Taymor was a courageous one – she was best known at the time for her imaginative and offbeat staging of works by Shakespeare and Mozart – but Lion King earned critical plaudits and Tonys for Best Musical and Best Director.

Not all of her subsequent endeavours have been as fruitful. Taymor was fired from the Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark in 2011 over creative differences and cost overruns. Critics didn’t care for the final product much, either.

Last July, The Lion King’s North American touring companies made US$1bil. The film adaptation of The Lion King has made more than US$960mil (RM3bil) worldwide. – Reuters

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