Which Broadway and West End musicals should Hollywood make into movies next?

Big budget song-and-dance is back – so where on Broadway or the West End should Hollywood turn its spotlight? Rory Doherty takes a look at the shows most deserving of their own adaptations.

With Wonka, Mean Girls, and The Colour Purple hot on each other’s heels, it’s clear Hollywood is testing the waters with bringing back big budget song-and-dance to cinemas (even if they keep concealing how musical these films actually are in marketing…)

Studios didn’t wait until these films hit cinemas to greenlight the next wave of movie musicals—2024 brings the long-awaited adaptation of Broadway’s Wicked (well, at least act one), as well as original musical sequels Mufasa: The Lion King and Joker: Folie à Deux. A24 have also gotten in on the game, with indie comedy Dicks: The Musical, while Richard Linklater is bringing beloved Sondheim flop Merrily We Roll Along to cinemas, although not any time soon.

But that’s just the musicals in production. Which other Broadway and West End shows deserve a big screen adaptation of their very own?


The Winona Ryder and Christian Slater-led cult classic was given a new lease of life a decade ago with this blackly comic musical version. The songs are catchy, edgy, and brassy, dialling up the original film’s comic insensitivity to a lot of teen topics to a belting volume and pulsing rhythm. Filled with jagged and loud comedic characters that stay faithful in spirit to the 1988 original, this musical already exists in film form as a professionally shot (“proshot”) concert film, but it’s time this sex and murder-filled high school romp returned to the silver screen.


This sung-through (no talking scenes!) musical has made different-sized waves over its two-decade lifetime, crescendoing to a Tony Award-winning Broadway run five years ago. It’s a revamped version of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in an industrial hellscape, with incredible music drawing from roots, blues, rock, and ragtime styles. It’s a transcendent theatrical experience that’s just waiting to blow out your cinema screen speakers.


Hollywood has been trying to crack the small-scale concept musical in film form for decades, but even so it’s a shame that the most iconic movie version of one of Steven Sondheim’s best musicals is a legendary documentary about the recording of its original cast album. This ’70s story of a bachelor feeling the pressure of straight, monogamous companionship from all his married friends taps into a sincere and affecting emotion in nearly every song—an intimate cinematic adaptation would tear the house down.

Avenue Q

This R-rated Sesame Street riff is packed with puppet sex, puppet swearing, and all sorts of non-Jim Henson approved activities, and seeing how the line between theatricality and cinema was always intentionally blurred on the various Muppet stage and screen, it’s long overdue for a cinematic treatment. Avenue Q’s faux-instructional songs for a modern age (including the button-pushing Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist and The Internet is For Porn) may need a fresh coat of paint for a contemporary era (the musical premiered over 20 years ago!), but they still pack a puppeteered punch.

Come From Away

This inspiring and heartbreaking musical focuses on a tiny Newfoundland town that had to house 38 planes-worth of displaced passengers after the September 11th attacks, and spends its runtime revealing the deeply felt fear and compassion right at the epicentre of the global terror attack. With such a rich variety of characters and emotional stories, Come From Away deserves an iconic ensemble to bring the story to cinemas—a proshot version is currently available on Apple TV+.


Yes, we know, a Tim Burton-directed Beetlejuice sequel with the original cast and Jenna Ortega is soon to drop this year, which is why now is the perfect time to make the case that we don’t need a legacy sequel but rather a movie-to-musical-to-movie adaptation and bring the 2018 Broadway musical to the big screen. The COVID pandemic meant that the Broadway version’s lifetime was tragically cut in half—nevertheless, its incredible, mean-spirited energy should live on with a full, sonorous film.

Fun Home

Based on Alison Bechdel’s iconic graphic memoir of the same name, this 2015 musical looks at the lines connecting Alison’s queerness with that of her father, a closeted man who committed suicide months after she came out as lesbian. The charged, frequently fraught relationship between father and daughter is painstakingly realised in musical form, and all of the memoir and musical’s complexities would be devastating in film form.


Just after a tremendous Broadway revival, this historical musical centres on the 1913 trial of Jewish American Leo Frank, who was put on trial for raping and murdering a 13-year old-employee and lynched a few years after. The case aroused severe antisemitic tensions and is credited with reviving the KKK and founding the Anti-Defamation League, and the musical captures not just the tragedy of Leo and his wife Lucille’s relationship, but the righteousness that fuels so much of historic racist violence. It’s a powerful, terrifically written musical that would command movie audiences were it to get a big-screen adaptation.