The Highest-Grossing Broadway Shows of All Time
Wed, April 14, 2021

The Highest-Grossing Broadway Shows of All Time

There are different reasons why different broadways shows prove to be great hits. Like many forms of art, sometimes other stories stand out more than others / Photo by: Broadway Tour via Flickr

 

There are different reasons why different broadways shows prove to be great hits. Like many forms of art, sometimes other stories stand out more than others. But even though some stories don’t seem to sell better than others, the metric for measuring the popularity of a play via their monetary performance relies on a lot of factors such as the size of the theater or the number of seats. 

Data from The Broadway League approached this problem by listing down the money these shows made without adjustments for inflation. It will also not include any grosses from national tours or international productions. 

“The Lion King”
Earnings: $1,463,250,222
Total performances: 8,519

Vibrant make-up and an equally vibrant story that speaks to multitudes, The Lion King musical sits at the top of this list thanks to its catchy song-filled production and the nostalgic and timeless quality of the story that continues to connect with audiences around the world. 

Cheat Sheet, a source for quick reference sheets, reports that the success of The Lion King on Broadway can also be noticed in the fact that it was already awarded numerous Tony Awards like the Best Picture award and has been admired far and wide for continuously doing shows all over the world. 

Playbill, a magazine for theatergoers, adds that it’s also the third-longest running show as much as it is the highest-grossing. It began in 1997 and has since then grossed high on Broadway week per week. 

“Wicked”
Earnings: $1,190,774,930 
Total performances: 6,046

Though it is late by six years from The Lion King, “Wicked” easily flooded the Broadway scene with staggering success. According to Playbill, “Wicked,” which is a “backstory of the witches of The Wizard of Oz,” continues to wow audiences with their “high-flying (and high-belting) star-making performances. As reported by Entertainism, the show is currently running on the Gershwin Theatre with average ticket prices at $138. 

Notable in Wicked theater gross journey was their last week of performance in 2012 where they racked up $2.9 million, the highest weekly earning for a Broadway musical. 

According to Playbill, “Wicked,” which is a “backstory of the witches of The Wizard of Oz,” continues to wow audiences with their “high-flying (and high-belting) star-making performances / Photo by: bradleypjohnson via Wikimedia Commons

 

“The Phantom of the Opera”
Earnings: $1,150,057,053
Total performances: 12,574

As a classic, “The Phantom of the Opera” has more performances than “Wicked” and “The Lion King,” having at least twice the amount of shows that the other two have. But since successful Broadway performances are dependent on the size of the theatre and, therefore, things like seating capacity and ticket pricing, even the shows that held the most performance can lag a little behind. 

No matter, “The Phantom of the Opera” is still third overall. According to Cheat Sheet, “The Phantom of the Opera” celebrated its 10,000th performance last 2012 and has been known for being the only Broadway show to have made that number of shows. 

“Mamma Mia!”
Earnings: $624,391,693
Total performances: 5,772

Even as it closed on September 12, 2015, “Mamma Mia!” will forever go down in history as the musical and film franchise that made the already-amazing Swedish pop group ABBA even more amazing. During its run, the “Mamma Mia!” production slowly became the ninth longest-running show on Broadway and has easily become a mega-hit. It has run for 14 years now and proved that there is success to be had by starting small and just listening to ABBA. 

So here is your encouragement to listen to them if you haven’t already! It makes watching the production live on Broadway that much more fun!

“Chicago” (1996 Revival) 
Earnings: $613,892,561
Total performances: 8,908

“Chicago” is already 8,000 shows in and is still going. According to Playbill, this 1996 revival is currently playing at the Ambassador Theatre. Revivals in the world of film and theatre are usually tricky business, but after “Chicago” managed to prove that they’ve got what it takes to be on stage to this day. It is now “the second longest-running show in Broadway history, the longest-running American musical, and by far the most successful revival ever.” 

As successful as it is, though, with all those credentials laid out, it wasn’t as successful before when it first made rounds. Sure, they managed to tour most of the United States and the United Kingdom but the risque nature and themes of the story sure resonate easier with modern, cheekier audiences. 

This risque theme focuses on the story of a “pair of women who were accused of homicide and the media spectacle that followed.” 

“Chicago” is already 8,000 shows in and is still going. According to Playbill, this 1996 revival is currently playing at the Ambassador Theatre / Photo by: Broadway Tour via Flickr

 

“Jersey Boys”
Earnings: $558,416,084
Total performances: 4,680

“Jersey Boys” is a little different from the mentioned Broadway shows in the list so far and relies on a more “documentary-style” storytelling to convey the message and plot of the story. According to Cheat Sheet, it “tells the story of the 1960s rock n’ roll group "The Four Seasons” and includes classic hits such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Stay,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Working My Way Back to You,” and “Rag Doll."