Musicals aren’t a very original art form, everyone knows that. From Show Boat to Shrek, most are based on pre-existing material.
But it feels like it’s getting worse, right? Especially if you’ve read any of the TOS advertising, which is billing itself as one of the few totally original new musicals.
Well, let’s look at the last three decades and see what our authors are up to . . .
In the last 10 years, 64% of all musicals were adaptations.
In the 10 before that, 68% of all musicals were adaptations.
And, in the 10 before that, it was 60%.
Relatively consistent, right? And no sign of a trend in either direction.
But here’s a trend that you can’t deny.
In the decade starting 30 years ago, 6% of all musicals were based on movies.
In the decade starting 20 years ago, 11% of all musicals were based on movies.
And in the most recent decade, the percent of musicals adapted from movies was 19%.
Most of you probably could have guessed this trend, but can you guess why?
Is it because we’ve run out of classic novels to adapt? Is it because Rent tipped our audiences away from the epic British pop-era to crave more modern stories and scores? Is it because we can’t get our hands on the rights to contemporary novels because the movie companies use whatever petty cash they have to wrap up those rights for years?
Who knows, but the fact is that the movies are on the marquees. Is it the sign of the end of Broadway as we know it?
Nah. Adapted musicals are the majority, and it doesn’t matter where they come from, as long as they keep coming and as long as audiences keep coming to see them.
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