Hakuna Matata: That means $1 billion

Pedestrians walk beneath a sign for the musical 'The Lion King' in New York City. The show, which opened 16 years ago, will gross $1 billion this week.

"The Lion King", the musical, is about to break a Broadway record -- it’s expected to become the first show to gross more than $1 billion this week.

Based on the Disney movie, "The Lion King" opened on Broadway 16 years ago. But it’s not crossing the billion dollar threshold just because it’s been around it’s been so long. There are about four other musicals that have run longer.

David Rooney is a theater critic for The Hollywood Reporter. And I asked him, so how did "The Lion King" do it?

The how is simple, it’s a good show,” says Rooney. “And it was an instant phenomenon.”

Rooney says unlike previous Disney efforts, the entertainment company didn’t just recreate the movie on the stage. Instead, they hired avant-garde director Julie Taymor, who used puppetry and other stage devices to capture the magic of theater.

And, he says, Disney has kept the marketing dollars flowing.

A lot of shows that are doing that kind of business, think well we don’t need to spend major marketing money,” Rooney says.

The musical also has a built-in audience, says Blake Ross is the editor-in-chief of Playbill.  

“'Lion King' is a pretty good universal show for kids to go to,” Ross said.

And, she says, like a lot of recent animated movies by Disney, adults enjoy the the musical too.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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