Many say that its a dead form of entertainment. Somehow Broadway always comes up with a new and amazing play to amuse the masses with each passing generation. From Sweeney Todd to Wicked, the stage is still very much alive. While Broadway seems to be flourishing with new material, Hollywood can’t seem to land an original idea at all. The movie scene is full of remakes, reboots and films based on source material. Luckily, Broadway has proven to be quite the source material.
The story of Fanny Brice is one well known to fans of Broadway. The play struck the hearts of millions when Barbra Streisand took the reigns as the leading lady. The amusing antics of the main protagonist and the catchy tunes made the play a hit. Streisand fans still consider this her finest hour. In 1968 it was decided that Funny Girl would transition onto film. Streisand shined on camera just as she did on stage and solidified her spot as a top star. The film saw great critical and public reception and even sparked a sequel, 1975’s Funny Lady.
Streisand’s iconic role has never been touched since. Although this was not the first instance of the stage transitioning to film, it was one of the first major successes of the modern era. Funny Girl proved that Broadway was brilliant source material for the big screen.
When a film spends seventy-five million to be made and only makes back fifty-nine million, it is widely considered a flop. When the idea came about that Hollywood would adapt Broadway’s campy 1980’s hair metal tribute, Rock of Ages, to the big screen…eyes began to roll. The plot was meant to be nothing more than a silly love affair with rock n’ roll. Hollywood failed to capture a lot of the fun that made the play a success. Aside from a surprising performance by Tom Cruise (who has a rather fantastic voice) and fan favorite, Russell Brand, the film failed miserably.
Broadway can provide a brilliant source material but it is easy to screw up. The Broadway audience is vastly different from the average movie-going audience. When a play is meant to be campy and fun, that may not transition well to film. Often times, movie-goers just write these films off as limiter engagements that can be passed on.
Despite many failures, Broadway has typically translated well to the big screen. As is the problem with most source material, movie makers just don’t get it. Sometimes I wonder if directors and casters have even seen the original plays. Perhaps Hollywood should try originality so as not to disappoint so many millions of people.