A scene from The Lion King – Contributed–


The Lion King is the top ticket of all time.

With a worldwide gross of over US$6.2 billion, The Lion King stage musical has now achieved the most successful box office total of any work in any media in entertainment history, The Associated Press has reported.

The show quietly took over top spot from the US$6 billion-earning The Phantom of the Opera late this summer, according to representatives from both shows. Phantom producers Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group congratulated The Lion King in a statement, calling their rival show “The Pride of Broadway.”

The total makes The Lion King more valuable than any single Harry Potter film, the blockbuster Titanic, or any of the Star Wars movies. By way of comparison, the highest-grossing film in history is Avatar, with nearly US$2.8 billion worldwide.

“It’s difficult not to become emotional at this realisation of the show’s impact,” said Thomas Schumacher, president and producer at Disney Theatrical Productions. He recalled the long road the musical has taken from its beginning in four downtown rehearsal rooms in May 1997.

Our goal

“Our goal then was to tell the story purely and theatrically so that audiences could feel it in their heart,” he added. “And, to this day, that is the audience experience whether they see the show in Madrid, Wisconsin, South Africa, Tokyo, or in Broadway. Of that, we are deeply proud.”

The figure only calculates box office receipts from the various worldwide stage productions, not sales of posters or CDs and other merchandise, revenue from the film (which grossed US$423 million domestically, including its rereleased in 3D), or syndication and licensing fees. Currently, there are 10 productions of The Lion King, including those in New York, London, Hamburg, and on tour across North America.

The Phantom of the Opera is still the longest-running show in Broadway history and 140 million persons worldwide have seen it. There are currently eight productions, with new ones planned for Moscow, Hong Kong, and Istanbul.

The Lion King, which features music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice and the vision of director Julie Taymor, was an adaptation of an animated film when it hit the stage but has in many ways overshadowed the film. It tells the story of a young lion cub’s coming of age and uses puppetry and dance in ways that haven’t been replicated.