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15 Contemporary Musicals That Need Movie Versions ASAP

The 21st century has had its fair share of successful musical movie adaptations, including “Chicago, “Mamma Mia!” and “Les Misérables.” Future adaptations for “Wicked” and “American Idiot” have also been confirmed for the near future. With the advent of original movie musicals such as “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman,” we are living in an exciting time for musical movies.

Here are 15 contemporary musicals we feel would make excellent movies, with contemporary meaning Broadway premieres from 1997 onward:

1. ‘Hamilton’

The sleeper hit musical of 2015 may have a feature-length movie coming — although maybe not for some time, as Lin-Manuel Miranda explained to The Hollywood Reporter. Considering the show’s success and resonance with American history, a film version seems inevitable by now!

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2. ‘The Book of Mormon’

Trey Parker and Matt Stone feel that it is “too soon” for a film version of the hilariously offensive musical, according to IGN, but the duo’s success and fanbase from the “South Park” franchise give this musical a cinematic advantage.

3. ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

The most recent Pasek and Paul musical about a young awkward teenager has won the hearts of Broadway fans young and old. The success of songs such as “Waving Through a Window” has given the show massive appeal that should inevitably cross over to Hollywood.

4. ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’

This Edwardian Britain period comedy might not seem like a first-choice for a movie adaptation, but it might find a home with a more niche studio. Sony Pictures Classics, we’re looking at you!

5. ‘Come From Away’

This musical, set in Newfoundland shortly after 9/11, is planned to be made into a movie by the Mark Gordon Company, according to Broadway.com.

6. ‘In the Heights’

Miranda’s other great Broadway show has had a movie adaptation in development for years. However, in light of the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal, Miranda is trying to reclaim the rights to the project, Entertainment Weekly reports.

7. ‘Spring Awakening’

Since gaining more momentum from Deaf West Theatre’s Broadway revival production, the Sheik/Slater musical was reported in 2016 to be in development with Playtone, Tom Hanks’ company, by BUILD Series.

8. ‘Aida’

Plans to turn the Elton John musical into a film were first announced in 2007, with Beyoncé being considered for Aida and Christina Aguilera as Amneris, according to ComingSoon.net.

9. ‘Something Rotten!’

There are numerous film adaptations of Shakespearean works, including parodies such as “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” A film version of the musical comedy “Something Rotten!” would be a welcome gem in the ever-growing Shakespearean vault.

10. ‘Next to Normal’

This rock musical about a woman struggling with bipolar disorder and hallucinations is one of the more serious/dramatic choices on this list, and might be suitable as an HBO movie.

11. ‘Memphis’

The musical takes place in the 1950s Tennessee, when DJ Huey Calhoun becomes one of the first white DJs to popularize black music. After the show’s successful Broadway run and U.S. tour, the Mark Gordon Company announced plans to make the 2010 Tony Winner for Best Musical a feature film, the LA Times reports.

12. ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

Film director Fred Schepisi told The Boston Globe in 2014 that Geoffrey Rush, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Barbra Streisand were interested in doing a film version of this Lisa Lambert/Greg Morrison musical, Playbill reports.  We can only imagine the amount of “show-off” a cast like that could carry!

13. ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

This William Finn musical is a popular choice for high schools and community theatres. Some productions have “Parent-Teacher Conference” performances with one-liners that are too mature for a younger crowd, but this show would fit perfectly if filmed as a comedy targeted at older teens.

14. ‘Movin’ Out’

With the Hollywood success of “Mamma Mia!” it’s hard to understand why Billy Joel, one of America’s best-loved singer-songwriters, does not have a feature film for his own jukebox musical. No word of a future movie exists, but it’s never too late!

15. ‘Jekyll and Hyde’

There have been plans to make Frank Wildhorn’s most successful Broadway show into a Hollywood film since 2013, when RP Media bought film-producing rights, according to Playbill.

Which contemporary musical would you want to see become a movie? Let us know in the comments below…

Written by Joseph Kisiday

Joseph Kisiday is a 2016 graduate from Christopher Newport University, majoring in Music Composition. Joseph's love for theatre came at a young age through discovering the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber, such as "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera." When he is not writing, Joseph can be found watching operas or Miyazaki films.

5 Comments

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  1. Great list! Completely agree with The Book of Mormon and A Gentleman’s Guide.
    I would also like to see film adaptations of Big River, The Secret Garden, Falsettos, Ragtime, Parade, Urinetown, The Scottsboro Boys and Fun Home.

  2. I definitely agree with Book of Mormon, Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, Something Rotten, Spring Awakening and In the Heights, but also I think Falsettos (with the revival cast ideally too 😍 even if it was professionally filmed), Amelie, Legally Blonde the Musical, Be More Chill, School of Rock the Musical and Matilda the Musical deserve a movie adaptation. Also, I love Hamilton more than life and would love to be able to see it any time at all like you could if it was made into a movie, but I don’t think it would be as good as half of what I love about it is the simplicity of the set and the choreo which could NOT be used in a film. However a professionally recorded video of it should be released (which apparently they filmed already with the obc and will release sometime!!!!)

  3. Fine list. One musical that doesn’t fit the “contemporary” definition (unless you counted revivals) but that I believe would open up well to the big screen is “Miss Saigon.”
    Among contemporary musicals, one small musical that’s not on your list but that I love is the musical version of “Heathers.” Another semi-obscure choice would be “Fly By Night.”

  4. I think that the Phantom of the Opera needs a remake, with a stronger singing cast. Although the acting was ok, it didn’t do the musical justice as it concentrated more on appearances and set rather than content quality.

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