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Seven sci-fi and fantasy films that would make perfect stage musicals

Paul Fogarty June 8, 2022
Hawkeye Rogers the musical

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After wowing fans when it first released in 1985 and later spawning two sequels, Back to the Future has found a new lease of life in recent years as a bright and bubbly stage musical in London’s West End.

The award-winning production was adapted by the film’s own director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale, giving the show a touch of authenticity that many similar musicals can only dream of.

The success of Back to the Future: The Musical, which is slated to run until at least October 2022, got us thinking about which other sci-fi and fantasy films could work if adapted for the stage.

Back To The Future: The Musical | Official Trailer

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Back To The Future: The Musical | Official Trailer
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7. Jurassic Park

With the release of the final instalment in the Jurassic World trilogy fast approaching, what better place to begin our musical wishlist than with the film that started it all, Jurassic Park.

Like Back to the Future, the 1993 film is regarded as an all-time classic making it a prime choice for a musical adaptation, especially if songs were based around John Williams’ iconic score.

The big challenge for a Jurassic Park musical would, of course, be the dinosaurs but as The Lion King musical has proved, costumes for dinosaurs can be given some artistic license, although we would love to see some animatronic special effects attempt to tackle the ginormous Tyrannosaurus rex that ends up saving the day.

It’s worth noting that several low-budget and parody musicals do actually exist but one given the full backing of Steven Spielberg would be quite something.

Universal

6. Terminator

The Terminator franchise is synonymous with Arnold Schwarzenegger and while it may be unlikely that the Austrian-born actor would return at the age of 74, hearing someone attempting to sing while impersonating his signature accent would make the entry fee worth it on its own.

Like Jurassic Park, Terminator has been given the musical treatment before thanks to the Fallout Theater in Austin, Texas but it was quite a low-budget affair.

Tri-Star Pictures | Sony

5. Transformers

While Michael Bay’s Transformers films have been left wanting somewhat in the plot department, the special effects can’t really be faulted, and the prospect of having mechanical Autobots and Decepticons transformed into stage costumes would make for a fascinating challenge and drives our desire to see this musical happen.

Would a stage musical see more screen-accurate attempts at costumes or something more symbolic like those seen in The Lion King musical? As sci-fi conventions often show, fans can make some truly staggering Transformers cosplays.

4. The MCU

The Disney+ Marvel series, Hawkeye, teased fans with the in-universe production Rogers: The Musical, telling the story of Captain America and the Avengers.

But why stop at just a tease? The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the biggest franchises in cinematic history and a real-life Rogers: The Musical would undoubtedly draw in curious fans, especially after what was essentially a preview in the Hawkeye series which featured the genuinely toe-tapping tune, I Could Do This All Day

However, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a real-life Rogers: The Musical would be its budget as the failed Spider-Man musical Turn Off The Dark from 2011, which had an estimated budget of $75 million, shows what can happen if things go wrong.

Marvel Studios | Disney+

3. Harry Potter

Harry Potter has already been turned into a hugely successful stage play in the form of The Cursed Child which is routinely praised for its jaw-dropping magical effects.

Take those foundations, take us back to Harry’s school years and add some catchy songs about living with the Dursleys or having to face Slytherin at Quidditch and you’re onto a winner.

Warner Bros. | JK Rowling

2. Star Wars

As one of the longest-running sci-fi series in the galaxy, Star Wars had to be included in this list.

The central premise of good vs evil would make the perfect starting point for an inspirational musical and songs could even lean on John Williams’ legendary score for inspiration.

Of course, having ships flying through space, lightsabers and plenty of stormtrooper costumes would mean a Star Wars musical needs a hefty effects budget to succeed as a host of low-budget parodies have shown in the past but how could you pass up on the opportunity to see Darth Vader singing and dancing?

1. The Lord of the Rings

And finally, we end with one of the greatest fantasy epics ever created and a film/book trilogy that is begging to find its Hobbit-sized feet as a successful musical. Even the books feature songs written by author J.R.R. Tolkien.

Just think of the jaunty musical fun you could have in the Shire before matters take a serious and more operatic tone as the adventure of the Fellowship continues.

In fact, someone already did. Back in 2006, Toronto saw the arrival of a Lord of the Rings musical which later ventured over to London before closing in 2008.

At the time, the Lord of the Rings musical had a record budget of an estimated £25 million and there were even plans to take it on a world tour.

However, a mixed reception led to the musical’s downfall and huge financial losses, meaning it’s unlikely anyone would attempt a similar feat again, no matter how appealing it might be.

Perhaps Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series can revive interest in the fantasy franchise coming to the stage.

Warner Bros.
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Paul graduated from Teesside University in 2018 with first-class honours in Journalism. He has work published by the likes of Sky Sports News and started at GRV Media as a football freelancer before becoming a full-time member of HITC's flourishing Film, TV & Culture team.