Entertainment & Arts

The Lion King is named most successful production of all time

The Lion King Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hits from The Lion King include Hakuna Matata

Musical The Lion King has taken more money at the box office than any other stage show, or cinema release.

It has made more than $6.2bn (£3.8bn) in ticket sales alone, not counting merchandise, cast recordings or revenue from the film on which it is based.

And that means it has overtaken The Phantom of the Opera, even though Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical has been seen by twice as many paying punters.

The biggest film release at the box office, Avatar, has made almost $2.8bn.

Featuring music by Sir Elton John, with lyrics written by Sir Tim Rice, The Lion King began on Broadway in 1997.

It was based on a highly successful Disney animation released three years earlier.

'Deeply proud'

Last year, it was the highest-grossing musical on the New York stage, and it retains its number one position so far in 2014.

Its 22 productions around the world are thought to have been seen by 75 million people.

Disney Theatrical Productions president Thomas Schumacher said: "It's difficult not to become emotional at this realisation of the show's impact."

He added he was "deeply proud" of how the stage show had offered the same audience experience in numerous countries around the world.

The producers of Phantom acknowledged being overtaken by The Lion King, calling it "the pride of Broadway".

But Phantom, which started life on stage in 1986, remains the longest-running show in Broadway history and has been seen by an estimated 140 million people around the world.

Ten productions of Phantom are currently running, including in London's West End, on Broadway and touring North America.

And new productions are planned for Moscow, Hong Kong and Istanbul.

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