As 2013 draws to a close, Disney‘s landmark musical event, The Lion King, celebrates several milestones around the globe.
The Broadway production marks its 16th anniversary today at the Minskoff Theatre. The venue’s Web site notes that it took over half a year and more than 200 craftsmen and artisans to reburbish the Minskoff for the musical. As it plays its 6,660th performance on this anniversary, The Lion King finds itself in a position unprecedented in the history of Broadway. Already the highest-grossing and 5th longest-running show in Broadway history, it is routinely the #1 Broadway show in a given week, a feat previously unimaginable for a show at this stage in its life.
Next month The Lion King will pass Les Miserables to become the 4th longest-running show on Broadway. The production recently became the first show in Broadway history to pass $1 billion in cumulative gross, an achievement made by the North American tour of The Lion King earlier this year.
In the United Kingdom, the West End production celebrated its 14th anniversary on October 19. Along with the UK tour, which opened in August 2012, over 11 million people have enjoyed the The Lion King in the UK to date.
The award-winning musical will celebrate another achievement in December when it returns to Australia (opening on the 12th at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre), making it the tenth concurrent worldwide production of The Lion King, the highest number of productions running at any one time in the show’s history. Five of these have been running for 10 years or longer, an accomplishment shared by only one other show in history.
Among the most successful titles in entertainment history, The Lion King‘s worldwide footprint is remarkable. With a cumulative gross in excess of $5 billion, the title has already earned more than the biggest hit films in movie history: more than the Lord of the Rings trilogy combined, more than the six Star Wars films combined, and more than Avatar and Titanic, the two highest grossing flicks in cinematic history.