NEW YORK (AFP) – Blockbuster musical “The Lion King” was on Monday named the most successful production in history, raking in $6.2 billion at the box office – more than any other stage show or movie.
The earnings come from ticket sales alone and do not include merchandise, recordings or revenue from the Disney film on which it is based.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera”, which opened in London in 1986, was previously the highest-grossing show and has still been seen by twice as many paying audience members.
A spokesman told AFP that Phantom had collected $6 billion worldwide at the box office and pulled in 140 million spectators.
The 2009 movie Avatar is the highest-grossing movie on record, netting $2.8 billion at the box office worldwide.
With a catchy score by Elton John and British lyricist Tim Rice, “The Lion King” made its debut on Broadway in 1997, three years after the release of the Oscar-winning film.
“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, which announced the record-breaking numbers.
“Our goal then was to tell the story purely and theatrically so that audiences could feel it in their heart.”
There are currently 10 productions of “The Lion King” staged around the world, including in London, New York and Tokyo.
More than 75 million people have watched nearly two dozen global productions of “The Lion King”.
It was the highest-grossing show on Broadway in 2013 and so far in 2014.