Lion King musical sets $7.9-billion record

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The stage musical The Lion King was on Monday named the most successful production in history with worldwide takings of more than US$6.2 billion (S$7.9 billion) - more than any other production or movie.

The musical, which has been running on Broadway since 1997 and has been playing around the world, has exceeded the takings of the 1994 animated film of the same name, which are almost US$1 billion.

A spokesman for Walt Disney Co said: "It is the highest-grossing total in box office history."

The US$6.2- billion figure "is just the box office of the stage musical" and does not include merchandise, recordings or revenue from the Disney film on which it is based.

The spokesman said the show had reached the new record during the summer.

The total makes The Lion King more valuable than the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, any single Harry Potter film or any of the Star Wars movies.

By way of comparison, the highest-grossing film in history is Avatar, with nearly US$2.8 billion worldwide.

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 said the show had collected US$6 billion worldwide and pulled in 140 million spectators.

The Lion King, based on the film, follows the journey of Simba, a young lion born into animal royalty.

When Simba is ousted into the wild by his evil uncle, he overcomes adversity with the help of his jungle friends to reclaim his crown as king of African wildlife.

Directed by Julie Taymor, the musical features songs by Elton John and lyrics from Tim Rice.

Mr Thomas Schumacher, president and producer at Disney Theatrical Productions, which announced the record-breaking numbers, said: "It's difficult not to become emotional at this realisation of the show's impact.

"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 around the world, including in London, New York and Tokyo.

The musical also played in Singapore from March to October 2011.

More than 75 million people have watched nearly two dozen global productions of The Lion King.

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