You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway’s ‘The Lion King’ Becomes Top Grossing Title of All Time

Disney’s “The Lion King” has claimed a new crown: Top box office title in any medium.

The Associated Press did the math and discovered the 17-year-old stage musical, which on Broadway has undergone an extraordinary spurt of B.O. growth in recent years, has logged worldwide sales of more than $6.2 billion, taking the lead from another Broadway longrunner, “The Phantom of the Opera,” which has pulled in $6 billion.

That tally makes “Lion King” more successful than any single movie in history. The top film earner of all time is “Avatar,” weighing in at $2.8 billion.

The Broadway production of “Lion King” accounts for nearly $1.1 billion of the title’s overall cume, with the rest coming from North American tours and international outposts in London, Tokyo and Vegas, among other cities. Overall, “Lion King” has been seen in 22 different productions around the world.

Although “Lion King” has nosed past it at the legit box office, the 26-year-old “Phantom” continues to show stellar endurance. The New York production is the longest runner in Main Stem history, and in many ways the internationally renowned property served as the trailblazer for the global growth of subsequent Broadway musicals that have included “Wicked” and, yes, “Lion King.”

The lucrative landmark for Disney serves as just the latest encouragement for Hollywood studios to keep playing the high-risk, high-reward game of Broadway.

Warner Bros. Theater Ventures has stepped up its activity recently both in Gotham and in London, where its “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has carved out a healthy run, while last year Fox marked its increased focus on stage entertainment with a partnership with Broadway vet Kevin McCollum. Sony recently took a step toward exploiting its catalog with a deal with another Rialto producer, Scott Sanders, and Universal, which counts Broadway tuner “Wicked” among its most profitable properties, also is in the mix with a handful of developing musicals drawn from its catalog.

More Legit

  • Hillary and Clinton review

    Broadway Review: Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in 'Hillary and Clinton'

    If anyone could play Hillary Clinton, it’s Laurie Metcalf – and here she is, in Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” giving a performance that feels painfully honest and true. And if anyone could capture Bill Clinton’s feckless but irresistible charm, that would be John Lithgow – and here he is, too. Who better to work [...]

  • Hadestown review

    Broadway Review: 'Hadestown'

    “Hadestown” triggered a lot of buzz when this wholly American show (which came to the stage by way of a concept album) premiered at Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2016. Arriving on Broadway with its earthly delights more or less intact, this perfectly heavenly musical — with book, music and lyrics by Anaïs [...]

  • Burn This review

    Broadway Review: Adam Driver, Keri Russell in 'Burn This'

    The ache for an absent artist permeates Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This,” now receiving a finely-tuned Broadway revival that features incendiary performances by Adam Driver and Keri Russell, playing two lost souls in a powerful and passionate dance of denial. AIDS is never mentioned in this 1987 play, yet the epidemic and the profound grief that [...]

  • White Noise Suzan-Lori Parks

    Listen: The 'Dumb Joke' Hidden in 'White Noise'

    Suzan-Lori Parks’ new play “White Noise” tackles a host of urgent, hot-button topics, including racism and slavery — but, according to the playwright, there’s also a “dumb joke” buried in it. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Appearing with “White Noise” director Oskar Eustis on “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast, Parks revealed that the inspiration for [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • Alan Wasser

    Alan Wasser, Tony-Winning Broadway General Manager, Dies at 70

    Alan Wasser, a veteran Broadway general manager who received an honorary Tony Award, died from complications from Parkinson’s disease in New York on Sunday. He was 70. Wasser founded Alan Wasser Associates and general managed “Les Misérables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon,” three of the most successful productions of all time. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content