#Movies & TV

Are Hollywood Musicals Making a Comeback?

by Jennifer Lafferty

Are Hollywood Musicals Making a Comeback?
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There was a time when Hollywood musicals ruled, but the genre’s popularity started to fade in the 1960s and never fully recovered. Television is largely responsible for the recent resurgence of the musical; NBC’s live musical adaptations, including The Sound of Music Live! and Grease Live!, were enthusiastically embraced by viewers, proving that modern audiences aren’t too jaded for some good old-fashioned entertainment. With exciting projects like Emma Stone’s La La Land in the works, the Hollywood musical might be making a comeback.


The tradition of adapting hit Broadway musicals to film is one that goes back to the earliest years of talking movies and continues today. So many of the best-loved and most memorable musical films of all time originated on the Broadway stage: West Side Story, Gypsy, Funny Girl, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and more. In more recent years, the tradition of bringing Broadway to the big screen has been kept alive. Here are some of the best modern musicals, and a few we’re looking forward to:


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Mamma Mia


It's rare these days to see a Hollywood musical that isn't taken from a hit Broadway show, A good example is the long-running smash hit Mamma Mia!, as popular as it was campy. The farcical story line served as a backdrop for a catalog of beloved ABBA songs. Predictably, the 2008 film adaptation starring Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep was a huge hit.

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One of the first films to rejuvenate the public's love affair with Hollywood musicals was the 2002 hit Chicago, starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones as two seductive jazz-age murderesses and Richard Gere as their slick, unorthodox attorney. Besides the amazing music, choreography, and impressive performances, the movie was also entertaining for its depiction of society's insatiable appetite for sensational crime.

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Pitch Perfect franchise


All-girl a cappella group The Bellas first burst onto the scene in 2012's Pitch Perfect, starring Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks and Rebel Wilson, among others. The film spawned Pitch Perfect 2 in 2015, and a third installment is underway. One of the best things about this franchise is the pairing of the classic underdog story with a singing competition, a theme made popular by shows like American Idol and The Voice.

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Of course, musicals translate well into animated movies too, such as Disney's massive 2013 hit Frozen. Based on the acclaimed story The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, the endearing film Frozen revolves around the adventures of Anna and her sister, Queen Elsa, when they try to reverse the icy spell Elsa has accidentally inflicted on their kingdom. The first sequel is expected in the near future.

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Florence Foster Jenkins


We all know Meryl Streep can do anything, but it's surprising how many musicals she's made lately. In addition to her latest musicals, 2014's Into the Woods and last year's moderately successful Ricki and the Flash, she will soon be seen in the biopic Florence Foster Jenkins, slated for release later this year. The film, costarring Hugh Grant and Rebecca Ferguson, centers on an aging New York heiress who dreams of becoming an opera singer despite her lack of talent.

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La La Land


A good sign that musicals are really making a comeback is when two of the hottest young stars in Hollywood team up for one, like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the romantic musical dramedy La La Land. In theaters July 15, this nod to glamorous musicals of the '40s and '50s follows the story of a jazz pianist who falls for an actress in contemporary Los Angeles.

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Monster High


Another highly anticipated upcoming movie is the musical comedy Monster High. This live-action adaptation of the Mattel franchise tells the story of teens dealing with the pressures of high school in addition to the challenge of having parents who are legendary monsters. The film, due out October 7, was written and produced by Gossip Girl collaborators Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz.

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Among the most exciting upcoming animated musicals is the talent competition-themed Sing, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, and Reese Witherspoon. Kids of all ages are also looking forward to the animated musical adventures Trolls, featuring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, and Moana, with Dwayne Johnson.