Broadway: The Cream Rises to the Top

Below are the top five highest-grossing Broadway shows of all time as released by the Broadway League for its 2018-2019 season and does not include any grosses from national tours or international productions. This list reflects only actual grosses and was not adjusted for inflation.

1. The Lion King, $ 1,657,407,012
Total performances: 9,195
Currently running at the Minskoff Theatre

`It is Broadway’s third-longest-running show yet its highest-grossing, and by a fairly wide margin. This musical based on the hit 1994 Disney animated film, opened its door in 1997 and has consistently pulled in sell-out crowds and grosses amongst the highest on Broadway week-to-week. Its first nine years of production was at the New Amsterdam Theatre which boasts one of Broadway’s highest seating capacities at 1,801 seats. 

2. Wicked, $ 1,345,482,298
 Total performances: 6,728
 Currently running at the Gerswhin Theatre

Wicked erupted onto the Broadway scene when it was first shown in 2003. Although The Lion King had a six-year head start, Wicked proved to be a solid competitor for the first spot as it continued its run at Broadway’s largest theatre, The Gershwin. The theater has a seating capacity of 1,935. Known for its high-belting and high-flying performances, Wicked becomes Broadway’s most iconic productions.

3. The Phantom of the Opera, $ 1,241,017,579
 Total performances: 13,264
 Currently running at the Majestic Theatre

The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running Broadway show of all time and as of 2019 has 13,264 shows since it debuted in 1988 at the Majestic Theater. It is considered as a true New York City landmark. The musical is based on the 1910 French novel of the same name, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, and costume and set design by Maria Björnson. Until The Lion King surpassed it in 2014, Phantom was the most financially successful entertainment event in Broadway history.

4. Chicago (1996 revival), $ 656,495,931
 Total performances: 9,155
 Currently running at the Ambassador Theatre

It was originally opened on Broadway in 1975, running only two years and 936 performances. Chicago’s 1996 Broadway revival turned out to be a massive success with 9,000 performances, making it the second longest-running show in Broadway history, and the longest-running American musical. It is safe to say that it is by far the most-successful revival ever.

5. Mamma Mia!, $624,391,693
 Total performances: 5,758
 Closed September 12, 2015

With a run of 5,758 performances until its end in 2015, Mamma Mia! is currently the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history and the fifth highest-grossing of all time until The Book of Mormon surpassed it. Mamma Mia! paved the way for other musicals Jersey Boys and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.