The Highest Grossing Movie Musicals of All Time (Photos)

Can “In the Heights” reach the box office heights of these classics?

Brian Welk

Who said the musical is dead? The last few years have produced box office hits out of film adaptations of Broadway smashes, original movie musicals and a few, beloved, all-time classics. “In the Heights” based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stage musical hopes to be the next big hit.  It opens Friday in theaters and on HBO Max. Here are the highest grossing live-action movie musicals of all time based on their worldwide box office gross (all figures courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo).

17. “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) – $282.4 millionJohn Travolta perfectly embodies the disco era in this famed film, which received an original R rating before being edited to a PG rating in 1979.

16. “The Sound of Music” (1965) – $286.4 millionThis classic musical film received high accolades at the Academy Awards by winning both Best Picture and Best Director for Robert Wise — and even beat out “Gone With the Wind” for highest grossing film at the time.

15. “Pitch Perfect 2” (2015) – $287.5 millionThe second film in the “Pitch Perfect” series added newcomer Hailee Steinfield to the ensemble, and it managed to surpass the total gross of the original film in just five days.

14. “Chicago” (2002)$306.8 millionRob Marshall’s “Chicago” won six Oscars, including Best Picture, and helped launch the genre’s revival on the big screen this century.

13. “Enchanted” (2007) $340.5 millionThe movie that made Amy Adams a star is finally getting a long-awaited sequel, the announced “Disenchanted,” slated to premiere on Disney+ in 2022.

12. “Mary Poppins Returns” (2018) – $349.5 millionAs a sequel to the 1964 “Mary Poppins” starring Emily Blunt as the iconic nanny, the film features cameos from Lin-Manual Miranda and original cast member Dick Van Dyke (though not Julie Andrews), and it received four Academy Award nominations.

11. “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” (2018) – $394.7 million The long-awaited sequel to “Mamma Mia” adds three more ABBA songs to the film’s franchise as Lily James took on the role of young Donna in this time-jumping film.

10. “Grease” (1978) $396.2 million  Though its box office total is inflated somewhat by a re-release, “Grease” still holds up not just as one of the best musicals of the last 40 years but also the most successful (certainly given inflation).

9. “A Star is Born” (2018) – $434.9 millionThe fourth filmed version of the Hollywood classic, “A Star is Born,” grossed $434.9 million and earned the film eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Bradley Cooper and Best Actress for Lady Gaga — not to mention the killer song “Shallow.”

8. “The Greatest Showman” (2017) $438 million Hugh Jackman’s factually loose biopic about the life of P.T. Barnum and the formation of the circus had a rough opening weekend at the box office, grossing just $8.8 million domestic. But it grew over time and catapulted to success on the heels of its Oscar-nominated song “This is Me” by the “La La Land” songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

7. “Les Misérables” (2012) $441.8 million  Tom Hooper followed up his Best Picture-winning “The King’s Speech” with this lavish and dizzying musical that won Anne Hathaway an Oscar before returning back to the Broadway musical world for “Cats,” the film version of which didn’t do nearly as well.

6. “La La Land” (2016) – $446.1 million  The almost-Best Picture winner from Damien Chazelle was also runner-up as the highest grossing Best Picture nominee of 2016, falling behind “Hidden Figures.”

5. “Mamma Mia!” (2008) $609.9 millionThe first “Mamma Mia!” film, an adaptation of the stage hit featuring the songs of ABBA, made a whopping $144 million in its first weekend despite opening alongside “The Dark Knight.”

4. “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018) – $903.6 millionThe biopic of Queen became a wide success given its humble budget of about $50 million, earning star Rami Malek an Academy Award for Best Actor and the film an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. 

3. “Aladdin” (2019) – $1.0 billionThe live-action adaptation of “Aladdin,” which features Will Smith’s rendition of the genie, surpassed $1 billion, making it the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2019.

2. “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) $1.3 billionDisney struck gold with its live-action adaptation of the animated hit “Beauty and the Beast,” lovingly recreated to minute detail by director Bill Condon with a cast led by Harry Potter alum Emma Watson.

1. “The Lion King” (2019) – $1.6 billionThis Disney live-action remake (and we can debate whether the CGI jungle animals are really “live-action”) was a global smash and features voice talent from stars Donald Glover, Seth Rogen and Beyoncé, who even curated an album to go along with the film, “The Lion King: The Gift.”
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