The Greatest Showman
|The Greatest Showman|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Gracey|
|Story by||Jenny Bicks|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$205.6 million|
The Greatest Showman is a 2017 American historical period drama musical film directed by Michael Gracey in his directorial debut, written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon and starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. The film is inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum's creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus and the lives of its star attractions.
Principal photography on the film began in New York City in November 2016, and it premiered on December 8, 2017 aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2. The film was released in the United States on December 20, 2017 by 20th Century Fox, seven months after the circus stopped operating, and has grossed $205.6 million worldwide.
The Greatest Showman received mixed reviews, with praise for the cast (particularly Jackman), music and production value but criticism for the artistic license taken, with some reviewers calling it "faux-inspiring and shallow". At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, the film received three nominations: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actor – Musical or Comedy (Jackman), and Best Original Song ("This Is Me"), winning the latter.
P. T. Barnum and his father, Philo, a tailor, work for the Hallett family, and he becomes infatuated with their daughter Charity. Though Charity is being sent to finishing school; Barnum reassures her they will not be separated. The two keep in touch through letters until they meet again in adulthood ("A Million Dreams"), eventually marrying, raising two children in New York City ("A Million Dreams (Reprise)"). They live a humble life; though Charity is happy, Barnum dreams of more.
Barnum is laid off from his job as a clerk at a shipping company after the company goes bankrupt. Taking a risky bet, he takes out a large loan from a bank, deceiving the bank into accepting his former employer's lost ships as collateral. He uses this loan to buy Barnum's American Museum in downtown Manhattan, an attraction showcasing various wax models. Initially, sales are slow; on the suggestion of his children to showcase something "alive", he searches for "freaks" to serve as performers for his museum ("Come Alive"). This attracts a large audience, despite protests and poor reviews (one of which prompts Barnum to rename his venture "Barnum's Circus" out of spite).
Searching for ways to further his reputation amongst the upper class, he meets playwright Phillip Carlyle and convinces him to join his venture ("The Other Side"). Carlyle soon becomes enamored with circus performer Anne Wheeler, an African-American trapeze artist, but tries to hide his feelings publicly from his wealthy parents. During a trip Carlyle arranged for Barnum and his troupe to meet Queen Victoria, Barnum meets Jenny Lind, a famed Swedish singer, who he convinces to perform in America, himself serving as her manager. Lind's first American performance is a rousing success ("Never Enough"). While Barnum gains favor with the aristocratic patrons, he begins concealing his original troupe from socializing with them. Dejected, they nonetheless decide to stand publically against their local harassers ("This Is Me"). Carlyle and Wheeler attend the theater together one night, only to run into Carlyle's parents, who insult Wheeler's lowly status, causing her to leave. Carlyle chases her, trying to convince her that they can be together, but she rejects him ("Rewrite the Stars"). As Barnum takes Lind on a U.S. tour, Charity feels isolated from her husband as she stays home and takes care of their children ("Tightrope").
While on tour, Lind begins falling in love with Barnum, but when he refuses her advances, she calls off the tour and kisses him at the end of her last show, which is photographed by the press ("Never Enough (Reprise)"). Barnum returns home to find his circus on fire, caused by a fight between the protesters and the troupe. Carlyle, who tried saving Wheeler not knowing she had already escaped, is rescued amid the chaos by Barnum but suffers severe burns. Most of the set and props are destroyed. Word of Lind's cancellation and Barnum's public intimacy also reaches New York, resulting in his mansion being foreclosed and Charity taking their daughters back to her parents' home.
Depressed, Barnum starts drinking at a pub, where his troupe find him, persuading him to rebuild the circus; Barnum has an epiphany that causes him to realize the circus was for his friends and family rather than for himself ("From Now On"). Meanwhile, the injured Carlyle wakes in a hospital with Wheeler by his side.
Barnum leaves and finds his estranged wife, and they decide to mend their relationship. Faced with the financial difficulty of rebuilding the circus, the recovering Carlyle steps in, offering to use his earnings from his share of the circus's profits to rebuild it under the condition of becoming partners, which Barnum happily accepts. As rebuilding the circus in its original location would be too expensive, Barnum rebuilds it as an open-air tent circus by the docks. The new, revamped circus is a huge success; Barnum gives full control of the show to Carlyle and retires to focus on his family ("The Greatest Show").
- Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum, an ambitious showman and entrepreneur.
- Ellis Rubin as Young P. T. Barnum
- Ziv Zaifman provides Young P. T. Barnum's singing voice
- Ellis Rubin as Young P. T. Barnum
- Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle, a playwright who becomes Barnum's partner. He is a composite character partly based on James Anthony Bailey.
- Michelle Williams as Charity Barnum, the wife of P.T. Barnum.
- Skylar Dunn as Young Charity
- Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind, a famous Swedish singer.
- Loren Allred provides Lind's singing voice.
- Zendaya as Anne Wheeler, an acrobat, trapeze artist, and W.D.'s sister.
- Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, a bearded lady. She is a composite character partly based on Josephine Clofullia and Annie Jones.
- Sam Humphrey as Charles Stratton, a dwarf performer who is also known by his stage name of General Tom Thumb.
- Austyn Johnson as Caroline Barnum, one of the daughters of P.T. Barnum.
- Cameron Seely as Helen Barnum, one of the daughters of P.T. Barnum.
- Paul Sparks as James Gordon Bennett, the founder, editor and publisher of the New York Herald.
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as W. D. Wheeler, an acrobat and Anne's brother.
- Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Deng Yan, a Chinese blade-specialist.
- Eric Anderson as Mr. O'Malley, a former thief who Barnum employs to work at his circus.
- Daniel Everidge as The Lord of Leeds, The Huge Man.
- Shannon Holtzapffel as Prince Constantine, The Tattooed Man.
- Luciano Acuna Jr. as Fedor Jeftichew, The Dog Boy.
- Danial Son and Yusaku Komori as Chang and Eng Bunker, The "Siamese Twins".
- Gayle Rankin as Queen Victoria.
- Fredric Lehne as Benjamin Hallett, father of Charity and father-in-law of Barnum.
- Kathryn Meisle as Hannah Hallett, mother of Charity and mother-in-law of Barnum.
- Will Swenson as Philo Barnum, a tailor who is the father of P. T. Barnum.
The project was first announced in 2009, with Jackman already set for the title role. In August 2011, Michael Gracey was chosen to direct. In 2013, Fox hired lyricists Pasek and Paul to write the songs. According to Jackman, the seven year development process was, in part, due to studios being unwilling to take a risk on an original musical.
In December 2017, it was reported that James Mangold, who had worked with Jackman on several projects (including 2017's Logan), had been brought in to oversee the film's reshoots and post-production. This was due to the studio's concern that Gracey, a first-time director, was overwhelmed with the scope of the film and struggling with the pressure of an $84 million budget. Mangold was eventually given an executive producer credit.
- "The Greatest Show" – Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya
- "A Million Dreams" – Ziv Zaifman, Jackman, Michelle Williams
- "A Million Dreams (Reprise)" – Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely
- "Come Alive" – Jackman, Keala Settle, Daniel Everidge, Zendaya
- "The Other Side" – Jackman & Efron
- "Never Enough" – Loren Allred
- "This Is Me" – Settle
- "Rewrite the Stars" – Efron & Zendaya
- "Tightrope" – Williams
- "Never Enough (Reprise)" – Allred
- "From Now On" – Jackman
The soundtrack album features eleven tracks performed by the cast.
The Greatest Showman held its premiere on December 8, 2017 aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2, while it was docked in New York City. The film was then released in the United States on December 20, 2017.
On December 17, 2017, Fox televised a live performance of "Come Alive" from Warner Bros. Studios during its live musical special A Christmas Story Live! (which was based on fellow Pasek and Paul work A Christmas Story: The Musical). The number featured the film's stars and a cast of 150 dancers.
As of January 18, 2018[update], The Greatest Showman has grossed $102.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $103.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $205.6 million, against a production budget of $84 million.
In the United States and Canada, The Greatest Showman was released alongside Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and was projected to gross around $21 million from 3,006 theaters over its first six days. It took in $2.5 million on its first day and $2.1 million on its second. Over the three day weekend, it grossed $8.6 million (for a six-day total of $18.6 million), finishing fourth at the box office, behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Pitch Perfect 3. In its second weekend, the film grossed $15.5 million, again finishing 4th at the box office. The weekend-to-weekend increase of 76.3% marked the largest ever for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters, and the fourth biggest ever. In its third week the film dropped just 11% to $13.8 million, finishing 4th once again.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 55% based on 191 reviews, and an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Greatest Showman tries hard to dazzle the audience with a Barnum-style sense of wonder – but at the expense of its complex subject's far more intriguing real-life story." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a positive review, writing, "The Greatest Showman is a concoction, the kind of film where all the pieces click into place, yet at an hour and 45 minutes it flies by, and the link it draws between P.T. Barnum and the spirit of today is more than hype." Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3/4 stars, saying, "With all that corn and cheese and old-timey sentiment, The Greatest Showman ends up scoring some very timely social arguments. P.T. Barnum himself would have approved the dramatic sleight of hand." Steve Persall of Tampa Bay Times gave the film an 'A', and said, "The Greatest Showman is the feel-good movie the holiday season needs," while William Bibbiani of IGN gave The Greatest Showman a score of 7.9/10, and called the film, "wildly entertaining."
Britton Peele of The Dallas Morning News said, "The story is interesting and the beats are well-acted, but it's the musical numbers that make The Greatest Showman." Jackie K Cooper of Huffington Post gave the film a score of 10/10 and wrote, "You will be overwhelmed by the music and magic that explode on the screen. The film has a message that should resonate with today's world concerning acceptance and courage." Hugh Armitage of Digital Spy said, "The Greatest Showman is a broad and solid crowd-pleaser. An undemanding spectacle for all the family." Alan Jones of Radio Times called it "A joyously uplifting potpourii of visual resplendence, stylish choreography and solid gold magic, one engineered to approximate the lavish spectacle the movie musical once offered."
Sheila O'Malley of RogerEbert.com gave it 3.5/4, stating "The Greatest Showman is an unabashed piece of pure entertainment punctuated by memorable songs." Douglas Davidson of CLTure called the film, "An undeniable spectacle with a infectious soundtrack, a movie that dazzles and delights." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film a 3/4 score, and said, "The film has show-stopping well-choreographed numbers with catchy tunes," and Calvin Wilson of St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the film "highly enjoyable."
Carl Kozlowski of Pasadena Weekly gave the film an 'A', calling it "Groundbreaking & grandly innovative." Sean P. Means of The Salt Lake Tribune gave The Greatest Showman 3.5/4 stars, stating, "A strong cast give emotional power to this romanticized, tune-filled biography." Manuela Lazic of Little White Lies gave it 4/5, saying, "The Greatest Showman deserves to become a Christmas classic. the film's severe romanticism and ridiculous but affecting enthusiasm make it irresistibly life-affirming." Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and called it, "A fantasia of song and dance, a joyous exercise in pure entertainment that is made for the holiday crowd."
Conversely, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a negative review, criticizing the songs and characters and saying "There's idiotic, and there's magnificent, but The Greatest Showman is that special thing that happens sometimes. It's magnificently idiotic. It's an awful mess, but it's flashy. The temptation is to cover your face and watch it through your fingers, because it's so earnest and embarrassing and misguided — and yet it's well-made." In a negative review for The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney wrote "This ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story."
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, saying, "How do you cast a virtuoso Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, spare no expense in production values, add a score by Oscar and Tony winners Ben Pasek and Justin Paul and still end up with the shrill blast of nothing that is The Greatest Showman? Ask first-time director Michael Gracey, who cut his teeth on commercials and music videos without ever mastering the crucial knack of building snippets of musical comedy and drama into a satisfying whole." Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film's failures "are rooted in something deeper: a dispiriting lack of faith in the audience's intelligence, and a dawning awareness of its own aesthetic hypocrisy. You've rarely seen a more straight-laced musical about the joys of letting your freak flag fly."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards||February 5, 2018||Best Grownup Love Story||The Greatest Showman||Pending|||
|Casting Society of America||January 18, 2018||Big Budget – Comedy||Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, Rori Bergman and Patrick Goodwin||Won|||
|Costume Designers Guild||February 20, 2018||Excellence in Period Film||Ellen Mirojnick||Pending|||
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||January 11, 2018||Best Song||"This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul||Nominated|||
|Dorian Awards||February 24, 2018||Campy Flick of the Year||The Greatest Showman||Pending|||
|Georgia Film Critics Association||January 12, 2018||Best Original Song||"This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||January 7, 2018||Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||The Greatest Showman||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Hugh Jackman||Nominated|
|Best Original Song – Motion Picture||"This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul||Won|
|Guild of Music Supervisors Awards||February 8, 2018||Best Music Supervision for Film: Budgeted Over 25 Million Dollars||Benj Pasek and Justin Paul||Pending|||
|Best Song/Recording Created for a Film||"This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul||Pending|
|Heartland Film Festival||December 31, 2017||Truly Moving Picture Award||Michael Gracey||Won|||
|Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild||February 24, 2018||Feature Motion Picture: Best Period and/or Character Makeup||Nicki Ledermann, Tania Ribalow and Sunday Englis||Pending|||
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