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Good job, America.
Very quietly, almost stealthily, a new king has been inaugurated on Broadway.
Box office figures to be released later Monday show that "The Lion King" last week swiped the title of Broadway's all-time highest grossing show from "The Phantom of the Opera," The Associated Press has learned.
The cumulative gross for "The Lion King" is $853,846,062, according to the show's numbers. Its chandelier-swinging rival's cumulative total is $853,122,847, according to musical's publicist. The "Lion King" surged past "Phantom" after netting over $2 million at the box office for the week ending Sunday, while "Phantom" pulled in about $1.2 million.
What makes the achievement all the more remarkable is that "The Lion King" chased down and grabbed the title despite "Phantom" having almost a full 10 years' head start. The Disney show opened in November 1997, while "Phantom" debuted in January 1988. The upstart's victory is due in large part to its higher average ticket prices and a slightly larger theater.
"It doesn't surprise me," said Cary Ginell, a music historian and biographer who edited the seventh edition of "Broadway Musicals: Show By Show." He compares "The Lion King" to a Disneyland ride.
"It's a spectacle that satisfies on many different sensory elements — audio, visually, emotionally. It's also good for all ages — just like Disneyland is. For the kids, it's the visual elements — the colors, the costumes and the puppetry. For the adults, it's 'Hamlet,' basically. And the music is not geared to one age or gender or race. It's as universal a show can get."
Hey, we're going on a trip to NYC. Let's experience some theater! How about we check out that children's cartoon we own and have seen 30 times.