How 'The Lion King' Became Broadway's First $US1 Billion Show

The Lion KingEthan Miller/Getty‘The Lion King’ has earned over 70 major arts awards in its 16-year duration.

“The Lion King” may not be the longest-running show on Broadway — a spot held by the now 25-year-old “Phantom of the Opera” — but it’s
on track to become the first show to earn a cumulative gross of $US1 billion.
As of Oct. 6, “The Lion King” had collected $US997 million from its New York shows.

But the show’s financial success isn’t due to super expensive tickets.

“The Lion King” ticket prices sit in the middle of the pack, with an average price of $US130, compared to “The Book of Mormon’s” $US171 average.

The show’s success is also not entirely due to show duration, as the 16-year-old musical is still number five on the list of longest-running musicals, right behind number four “Les Miserables” — though it’s soon to overtake that spot, too.

What has made “The Lion King” so successful is that it’s a family-friendly musical which plays to packed theatres.

In more than 6,600 shows, the musical has only dropped below 80% audience capacity fewer than a dozen times, reports The Hollywood Reporter, noting that typical Broadway musical production costs are $US600,000 to $US700,000 a week.

“This humbling milestone is a testament to the vision and artistry of [director] Julie Taymor,” said producer and Disney Theatrical Group president Thomas Schumacher.

The Disney movie-turned-musical first roared onto Broadway with its Oct. 15, 1997 premiere, and throughout its duration, has racked up six Tony Awards, eight Drama Desk Awards and a Grammy Award.

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