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A look at some films that have flopped over the past couple of decades, and whether or not stage productions of the same subject matter might be more effective.

The past decade has demonstrated rather flawlessly that we never really know what will succeed on Broadway, or on stage in general. After all, who would have predicted that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark would be an epic flop while The Book Of Mormon was a smash hit? How could a show based on a book as lovely as Tuck Everlasting fail while the out-of-nowhere musical Hamilton became a sensation? Basically, no matter the subject matter, the source material, the writers, composer, or actors, we can never quite predict what’s going to make a show catch on or not.

The same is true to some extent in film, though it’s often easier to identify what makes a movie flop after the fact. It’s usually quite clear if a movie is just too long, or too heavily invested in special effects, or doesn’t feature likable characters, etc. And it just so happens that some of these common problems for bad movies can actually be solved on stage. Because of this, I gave a little thought to some significant “bad” films that might just make it on stage.


Bad Films to Good Shows: "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is truly a flop that could perhaps create a more-than-decent stage piece.

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

The point of this list of suggestions isn’t just to disparage some films that flopped, but with that said, this latest King Arthur adaptation was an all-out disaster. It essentially turned Arthur into a DC-esque superhero and transformed Arthurian lore into a generic medieval fantasy. The truth of this lore though is that it’s really always thrived through characters, gentle magic, and legend – and all of this can be replicated on a stage with none of the excess special effects and, frankly, nonsense we saw in King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. Camelot the musical comes to mind of course, but an updated version for modern times could be absolutely wonderful.


In Broadway, it can be a hit or miss. And some bad films could actually create some good shows on stage.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger suffered for multiple reasons, but suffice it to say it didn’t do justice to the classic adventure tale. As you might have noticed if you saw the film, this tale actually requires a fairly expansive setting, not to mention some railroad chases and the like. Even so, however, there’s something almost inexplicably theatrical about the whole thing, and it’s not as if the story of the Lone Ranger can’t be reimagined. A version designed for the stage – possibly even with working trains in the background – could really be quite a spectacle.


Bad Films to Good Shows: A dynamic and creative stagework would be needed to successfully recreate "Cowboys & Aliens" into a Broadway show.

Cowboys & Aliens

The very idea of Cowboys & Aliens is all over the place. It has a ridiculous title and hails from a little-known graphic novel publisher called Platinum Studios. In addition to a 2011 film, it produced an online game that takes the form of a digital slot machine. There are thousands of slot titles with new titles coming each day, so perhaps this isn’t as strange as it sounds, but a slot machine based on this story only adds to its weirdness. And then, of course, there’s the 2011 film, which actually missed the mark largely by way of being dull. Still, the quirky title of this tale still seems to intrigue fans, and because it’s never really succeeded there could basically be a blank canvas for a new creator. Maybe it would work on Broadway better than in film.


Bad Films to Good Shows: The most recent Tarantino movie, and certainly a flop, would otherwise have been great if adapted to a Broadway stage.

The Hateful Eight

Arguably the weakest of Quentin Tarantino’s major films, The Hateful Eight still did just fine with critics. However, it was criticized by some for being too long, too slow, and ultimately too much like a stage play masquerading as a film. So, why not try it on the stage for real? Tarantino is actually rumored to be adapting the project, though news on this front has gone somewhat quiet of late. I actually think it could work quite well, provided it moves along a little more quickly than the film did.


Bad Films to Good Shows: With its classic story, "Dracula Untold" would certainly because a theatrical hit if adapted to stage.

Dracula Untold

Here we’re back to the complaint we started with. Like the aforementioned King Arthur film, Dracula Untold is a movie that had beloved lore to build on and wound up being a convoluted mess with too much of a focus on over-the-top action and special effects. However, its general twist on the Dracula narrative, framing the character as a sort of conquering prince who adopts his vampire ways in order to triumph for good, is interesting. It’s a core story that deserves another shot, and there’s just something about the idea of a full-fledged, gothic Dracula show on modern Broadway that I can’t help but feel would be special.

So, what do you think? Would any of these ideas work, or do you have other bad movies to suggest? Let us know in the comment section below!


Writer’s Bio: Harry Devine
Harry Devine is a freelance writer, amateur filmmaker, and pop culture enthusiast. When he’s not working on his own projects, he contributes writing to a number of sites and blogs across the internet.


Another aspect in the film-and-musical-theater relationship we notice occasionally is that a few musical films are based in musical theater productions that were based on films. Yep, we didn’t get that wrong. Here is a list of 5 of them and you will understand how that works.

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