With the recent news of a King Kong Broadway musical, it seems as though just about any hit movie can be transferred to the stage. Hey, if you can bring a giant monster like King Kong to Broadway, the skies are the limit. And there have indeed been plenty of musicals adapted from movie material over the years that have taken from the most unlikely sources with odd results. Here are some Broadway productions that took cues from movie properties, some for better, some for worst, and some for weird.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
A Broadway musical based on an iconic comic book property with music by Bono sounded like a good deal. Unfortunately, the production became a disaster of escalating problems that pushed back showings. Among the performance’s most significant hurdles had the web-slinging Spider-Man fly through the auditorium for combat sequences. These stunts led to many injuries and a disastrous opening night before the production was finally ready for audiences without error.
Believe it or not, Sam Raimi’s cult classic Evil Dead series that turned actor Bruce Campbell into a horror icon, received a musical treatment for the stage. Borrowing elements from all three Evil Dead films, the musical follows the adventures of Ash, a retail employee the transforms into a slayer of demons. Filled with chainsaws and blood, the show was so bizarrely intoxicating that The New York Times wrote that it might very well be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show. And while Evil Dead has received a remake, a video game, and even a sequel TV series, this musical remains the oddest expansion of the franchise.
Based on the Mel Brooks comedy, The Producers finds Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the roles of theater producers struggling to get rich quick with a flop of a Broadway production. It’s a strangely meta-musical that leads into the staging of their intended disaster, Springtime for Hitler, that ends up being a hit for an outlandish caricature of the Nazis. So outrageous and irresistible was The Producers that it became a major hit and would even spawn a theatrical movie translation, with Lane and Broderick reprising their roles.
Re-Animator: The Musical
1985’s Re-Animator movie was a gory and campy translation of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror novel. The 2011 musical somehow matches that same level of tongue-in-cheek humor with bloody violence, following med student Herbert West in his gross-out path of finding a cure for death, via green serum. The abundance of blood let a splatter-zone for theaters, where the first three rows would be sprayed with red.
Ghost may have been an entertaining enough paranormal romance movie to win Whoopi Goldberg an Academy Award, but the Broadway musical version wasn’t exactly a stellar hit. Even though the music of Ghost was a highlight, the lukewarm musical numbers weren’t anything to topple the likes of the original recording of The Righteous Brothers’ "Unchained Melody” despite how many times this song is sung in the musical by Molly and Sam. That being said, the production was successful enough for a UK tour and would even be nominated for a few Tony Awards.