The Greatest Showman – why is it doing so well?

By: Emily Maybanks

With the recent news that the soundtrack to the film (released in UK cinemas on Boxing Day 2017) The Greatest Showman has been at the number one spot on the album charts for eleven weeks now, this poses the question: why is The Greatest Showman doing so well?

In a recent BBC article, it was revealed that the soundtrack has been number one for eleven consecutive weeks now. This – apart from Adele’s 21 – is more than any album in modern chart history, in the UK. It also beats Ed Sheeran’s 2017 album Divide, which spent a total of nine consecutive weeks at number one. This is also despite strong competition since January from artists such as Craig David and Camila Cabello. The Greatest Showman soundtrack has sold over 465,000 copies from a variety of physical sales; digital downloads, as well as audio streaming (at least 90% of this is probably me, being ever so slightly with both the film and the soundtrack). The album of course includes two top 40 hits – Rewrite The Stars, and the very popular This Is Me.

The film itself has become an enormous success. Starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, The Greatest Showman is still currently being shown in cinemas across the UK. In the film’s eleventh week of release, sales were totalling just over £37million, giving it a “longevity that’s virtually unheard of in the world of here today, gone tomorrow popcorn fodder”. However, when the film was released shortly after Christmas 2017, it received mediocre reviews and its opening weekend in the UK saw the film take £4.75million. However, over the three months since its initial release, Hugh Jackman and the rest of the cast have sung and danced their way into our hearts, possibly making our bank accounts cry. The Greatest Showman is now in second place in the UK box office chart, which, according to Tom Grater at Screen International (a movie trade publication), is a “remarkable” performance because “normally a film is expected to see the numbers of cinemagoers drop off by as much as 50% after its opening weekend,” Out of the 766 cinemas in the UK, The Greatest Showman is still being shown at 579 of them. Furthermore, Anna Smith is the president of the Critics’ Circle Film Section and on the film’s success; she says “The repeat business is key… People want to go along and take their family and friends to see it and sing along… It’s the familiarity of the songs.”

The Greatest Showman also celebrates diversity and characters with unique personalities and characteristics. It’s a fun, feel-good, powerful musical film and it’s impossible to finish watching it without smiling and singing the lyrics. The success of The Greatest Showman proves that word of mouth can often have much better results than huge marketing budgets. Michael Hann, who writes for The Guardian, comments on the soundtrack (produced by Tony and Oscar-winning song-writing duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), by stating that they have a “way with a chorus”, and “these are refrains configured to flatten everything within a 50-mile radius; you can almost feel the shock waves from the massed voices”. Compared with other films in the past two decades, after eleven weeks, The Greatest Showman is in second place behind 2009 film Avatar, and ahead of Titanic (1998), and Mamma Mia (2008) – the sequel of which, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is going to be released this summer.

As The Greatest Showman’s lead character, P.T. Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman) says, “no one ever made a difference by being like everyone else”. That’s exactly what The Greatest Showman is – unique.

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