A fascinating thing about the entertainment industry is that all of its productions can inherently serve as inspiration for other filmmakers to create their own masterpieces, from remakes to reboots to reimaginings. Oftentimes, in this process, these productions were also adapted to different media. For instance, a lot of films inspired stage musicals that amazed audiences by delivering a new version of the story and, by extension, a new way to experience it.
But with all things cylical, the wheel keeps turning and comes back to where it all began, and movie-inspired musicals, in turn, inspire new films, blending the very best of film and musical theater. This fascinating cycle of creative influence treats fans to stunning spectacles, both visually and musically, and allows them to get in touch with their favorite stories in a whole new way. While there have not been as many cases of movies inspired by movie-inspired musicals over the years, there are a few that are well worth watching. Check them out below.
10 Nine (2009)
- Release Date
- December 3, 2009
Seven years after helming the popular musical film Chicago, Rob Marshall once again stepped in as director for a movie musical of a similar nature: Nine. This 2009 film is based on Maury Yeston’s stage musical, which, in turn, took inspiration from the 1963 Frederico Fellini film 8½. Daniel Day-Lewis leads the cast as Guido Contini, a prestigious Italian film director in the midst of a personal and artistic crisis that leads him into trouble with the many women in his life.
A Talented Cast That Scores All the Accolades
When it comes to comparison, one must be honest: Nine was nowhere near as well-received as 8½. And in fact, it didn’t perform well at the box office either. However, it’s a worthwhile film to watch, primarily because of the work of its very talented cast — which includes Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, and Sophia Loren, among others — who were the most praised part of the production upon its release. Rent on Apple TV
9 The Producers (2005)
- Release Date
- December 25, 2005
- Susan Stroman
2005 marked the release of The Producers, a film by Susan Stroman, based on the Broadway musical and the 1967 movie of the same name. This one enlisted the involvement of Mel Brooks, director of the two aforementioned productions, and starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, joined by Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, and Gary Beach. It follows a washed-up Broadway producer and his accountant who, having had a play fail miserably, figure out a way to pull off a million-dollar scam by producing a musical destined to fail so that they can flee with the investors’ money.
A Hilarious Production Headed by Two Major Industry Players
The Producers had a similar reception to Nine, with mixed reviews and a poor box office performance. However, it does possess two features that make it totally worth watching. For one, the musical movie preserves the essence of the two productions that inspired it, which is due, mostly, to Brooks’ involvement in the project. In addition, it is inevitable to highlight the work of Lane and Broderick in the leading roles, which they also played on Broadway back in 2001. Rent on Apple TV
8 Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)
In 2011, Jamie Campbell’s story gained exposure thanks to the BBC Three documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, and a few years later, he would become a worldwide star, inspiring the creation of the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and its eponymous film adaptation. This movie, which marked Jonathan Butterell’s directorial debut, features Max Harwood as Jamie, a British teenager pursuing his dream of becoming a drag queen in an overly prejudiced society.
An Inspiring Story Based on True Events
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie was very well received by critics and audiences alike, and among other accolades, it earned a BAFTA Award nomination for Outstanding British Film. The main elements that make this movie outstanding are its empowering themes, its wonderful musical numbers, and Harwood’s performance in the title role, which, incredibly, was his first one ever. Stream on Prime Video
7 Mean Girls (2024)
Mean Girls (2024)
- Release Date
- January 12, 2024
- Samantha Jayne , Arturo Perez Jr.
Mean Girls was released in January 2024, reinvigorating the group of movies based on movie-inspired musicals. This film, which marked Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.’s directorial debut, is based on the stage musical and 2004 film of the same name, and like those, sees Tina Fey serving as writer. Angourie Rice leads the cast as Cady, a homeschooled teenager who enrolls in a high school for the first time in her life and must deal with the strict social hierarchies that operate in it.
A Twist on a Movie Classic That Garnered Even More Fans
Mean Girls is an iconic 2000s teen comedy that can arguably never be replaced. The 2024 musical builds on the legacy of the original by giving its audience what they want: a production with the same core themes, but with a few twists and many impressive musical numbers. And that’s not all: it features Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reprising their roles from the original film, and Reneé Rapp reprising her stage role of Regina George. Ultimately, Mean Girls has established itself as a delightful production that pleases fans of the original film and welcomes new ones worldwide.
6 Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical (2005)
Andy Fickman directs Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical, a film that brings to television the story that he, Kevin Murphy, and Dan Studney adapted for the stage in 1998. That musical, for its part, was inspired by the 1930s movie that attempted to warn parents about the dangers of cannabis use, and became a cult classic after being rediscovered decades later. It revolves around a group of teenage characters who, once they start smoking marijuana, descend into a downward spiral of madness.
A Hilarious Parody Featuring an Impressive Cast
Reefer Madness has a satirical approach and a unique style that builds on the over-the-top antics of the original film to treat audiences to a movie musical like no other. Besides being a great adaptation of the musical that is packed with catchy songs, the film stands out for its setting and the performance of its cast, which has Kristen Bell, Christian Campbell, and John Kassir reprising their stage roles.
5 Sweet Charity (1969)
The 1969 musical film Sweet Charity marked the cinematic directorial debut of dancer and choreographer Bob Fosse, and paved the way for what would become one of his biggest hits, 1972’s Cabaret. This film, in which Fosse also served as choreographer, was inspired by his 1966 musical, which brought the screenplay of Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria to the stage. Sweet Charity puts a twist on the original story by focusing on the romantic misadventures of Charity Hope Valentine, a paid dance partner who fantasizes about finding her significant other and changing her own life.
A Classic Musical Film That Struggled to Get off the Ground
Sweet Charity is regarded as an outstanding piece of 1960s musical cinema that showcases Fosse’s distinctive style (in both the direction and visual aesthetics), breathtaking choreography, and the charming performance of Shirley MacLaine in the lead role. However, its reputation was not always such: upon its release, the film did not get the best reviews, but it managed to improve its status over the years, establishing itself as the classic it is today. Rent on Apple TV
4 The Color Purple (2023)
2023’s The Color Purple is yet another recent production to join the list of movies inspired by musicals based on movies. This film, following the life of an African-American woman in the American South and her road to independence, is directed by Blitz Bazawule, inspired by the 2005 musical and Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film of the same name, the latter of which was the first to adapt Alice Walker’s novel to the silver screen.
A Retelling That Retains the Spirit of the Original
The Color Purple earned rave reviews upon its release for the performance of its stars, Bazawule’s work as director, and its wonderful soundtrack. But, unquestionably, one of the greatest achievements of this movie was its ability to build on the foundations laid by the previous productions, effectively offering a new take on the story while preserving its essence, blending the best of cinema and theater. Now Playing in Theaters
3 Hairspray (2007)
2007 marked the premiere of Hairspray, Adam Shankman’s film that earned a spot among the greatest musical productions of all time. Inspired by the Broadway musical and John Waters’ 1988 film, Hairspray presents Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager from 1960s Baltimore, who dreams of being part of a popular dance show, oblivious to the fact that by fulfilling her dream, she would also become a symbol against racial segregation.
An Optimistic Story That Endeared Itself to the World
Before long, Hairspray earned the admiration of critics and audiences alike, and became one of the highest-grossing musical films ever made. Among the most praised features of this production are its neat setting, its cheerful and optimistic spirit, and the performances of the cast (which includes Zac Efron, John Travolta, James Marsden, and Michelle Pfeiifer, among others), whose talent elevated each and every musical number in this amusing film to the highest level. Rent on Apple TV
2 Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical (2022)
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical brought Dahl’s popular story to the silver screen for the second time following the 1996 cinematic classic Matilda. This Netflix film, by Matthew Warchus, is based on Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly’s stage musical, and treats a new audience to the story of Matilda, an extraordinary little girl with telekinetic powers, who must deal with neglectful parents and a headmistress who seems determined to make her life miserable.
Dazzling Musical Numbers and a Villain to Remember
Naturally, Matilda the Musical bears far more similarities to the stage play than to the 1996 film. However, it has achieved something really challenging: delivering a new take on a popular story, with characters that live up to those in the original film. Although the performances of Mara Wilson and Pam Ferris as Matilda and Miss Trunchbull in the 1996 film are impossible to beat, Alisha Weir and Emma Thompson’s renditions bring something new to the table in their own unique way. Moreover, the production thrives on its impressive musical numbers, catchy tunes, and the terrific work of its cast. Stream on Netflix
1 Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Wrapping up this list is Little Shop of Horrors, Frank Oz’s 1986 film inspired by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s musical which, on its own, was a stage adaptation of Roger Corman’s 1960 movie. Featuring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, and Steve Martin, the film revolves around an employee of a soon-to-be-closed floral store, who gets his hands on a strange carnivorous plant that, before long, makes him the local sensation. But this young man’s life is turned upside down once he discovers that his beloved plant needs human blood to survive.
A Cult Classic Both Charming and Horrifying
Like many of the other musical movies on this list, Little Shop of Horrors successfully blended the charm of the original film with the magic of the stage production, eventually becoming a cult classic beloved to this day. Among the most outstanding features of the film, we can mention the performance of the cast, its setting teeming with 1960s aesthetics, and the special effects that were used, deemed notably effective for the time. Rent on Apple TV