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Top 10 Movies Based on Musicals

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Nothing goes together better than a thrilling movie and captivating music! Many musicals have been adapted to film over the years, but only a select few have transcended their source material to become classics that shine as bright on the silver screen as they have on center stage. Join as we count down the top 10 movies based on musicals.

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Top 10 Movies Based on Musicals

The hills are alive with the sound of music! Welcome to and today we’ll be taking counting down the top 10 movies based on musicals.

#10: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Kicking off our list is the cult-classic adaptation of the 1973 British rock musical. A parody of B-movie sci-fi and horror flicks, Rocky Horror follows a newly-engaged couple as they get stranded at the annual Transylvanian convention. There, they meet all kinds of bizarre characters, including a sweet transvestite named Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Replayed every year on Halloween as an interactive experience, this film has had the longest theatrical run in history. Let’s do the time warp again!

#9: Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Adapted from the 1964 Broadway musical, this compelling three-hour feature is packed with charm! It tells the story of a turn of the century Ukrainian Ghetto and a Jewish milkman who struggles with poverty, prejudice and his five daughters. His habit of asking god for help paid off: this film won three Oscars and made plenty at the box-office.

#8: Phantom of the Opera (2004)

This long-awaited film version of one of the greatest pieces of entertainment ever had a lot to live up to! Joel Schumacher brought Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic about a disfigured musical genius to the silver screen with lavish sets, costumes and art direction. So the reviews were modest: it’s still a must-see, especially if you never experienced “Phantom” on Broadway.

#7: Oliver! (1968)

Charles Dickens novel “Oliver Twist” not only spawned a beloved play in 1960, it also gave us a flick that faithfully retells the tale of a boy’s journey from the orphanage to the streets of London and finally to his rightful home. This high-spirited romp was so well received that it won six Oscars, including one for “Best Picture.” With memorable set pieces and songs like this, who would argue?

#6: Mamma Mia! (2008)

Romance, comedy and music go together… it’s that simple! This ABBA-fest is an adaptation of the 1999 stage play, and even if you’re not the biggest fan this is a feel-good movie filled with A-list talent like Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. Critics loved “Mamma Mia!,” but not as much as audiences who flocked to theaters in droves! Not bad for a story about a girl who suspects one of three charming men is her father.

#5: My Fair Lady (1964)

Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn star in this Hollywood remake of the Broadway musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.” The story follows professor Henry Higgins and his bet that he can transform a Cockney flower girl into a high society lady within six months. Easily one of the most elegant musicals ever made, this film deserved its eight Academy Awards, including one for “Best Picture.”

#4: Chicago (2002)

Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah are just a few of the A-list names on this film’s roster. Based on the 1975 musical, “Chicago” became one of the highest-grossing films in the genre, and took away six golden statues, including one for Best Picture. Long story short: all that jazz is about two femme fatales who end up in jail together, and they try to use fame to keep themselves alive.

#3: West Side Story (1961)

The musical masterwork of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim hits the blue-collar streets of New York in this reinvention of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This cinematic masterpiece cleaned up with ten Oscars, and its story of two lovers caught between rival street gangs became a pop-culture landmark. Are you a Jet or a Shark?

#2: Grease (1978)

This 1971 greaser extravaganza stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as two teenagers who had a summer romance. Fans today continue to enjoy both the stage play and the film for their infectiously catchy tunes, dance numbers, focus on young love and cool factor. “Grease” is one of the highest-grossing musicals at the American box-office, and it remains the definition of a generation.

#1: The Sound of Music (1965)

Taking the top spot on our list is the iconic musical based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp and a 1959 stage show. As the stars, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer sing the instantly immortalized songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. “The Sound of Music” remains the gold standard of the genre, and earned five Oscars. Other musicals come and go, but this remains one of our “Favorite Things.”

Agree with our list? What is your favorite movie musical? For more great Top 10 lists, be sure to visit us at!

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