Why It Sucked: "The Phantom of the Opera"
Movie adaptations of our favorite musicals will always be made, that's a fact. It's also a fact that many of them are going to be terrible. For every Singin' in the Rain, we get A Little Night Music. But why did some movie musicals succeed where others failed? This column will try to find out.
Gerard Butler & Emmy Rossum
There have been much worse instances of miscasting in movie musicals, but the choice of these two was flawed on so many levels. Gerard Butler, who was relatively unknown at the time, had no previous vocal training and barely any singing experience, other than a rock band in school. Perfect for the most iconic male role in musical theatre history right? The result was a laughable and ear-piercing performance. Some have said it wasn't a terrible performance considering this was his first musical, which is something I usually agree with when dealing with students rather than professional actors in multi-million dollar budgeted films.
Rossum was also unknown at the time, but unlike Butler, she actually had previous vocal training as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus. While Rossum certainly could sing, her voice still sounded too small and underwhelming for Christine. This girl is supposed to be a diamond in the rough and her voice doesn't really make us believe that. Rossum was also too young for Christine. She was 16 when they starting filming, Christine Daae is in her 20's in the novel.
What I don't understand is that if they were going to cast unknowns, why not get unknowns who fit the roles and could sing them? To make matters worse, Ramin Karimloo, who is arguably the best actor to ever play Phantom on Broadway, was cast as Christine's songless-father in the movie. Why not cast him as the Phantom?!?!?! Blerg......
Look, as a Batman fan, I'll never forgive or forget what Schumacher did to the franchise....never. But taking that out of the equation, I still never thought he was a master filmmaker. His movies always feel empty on character while full on style. He's basically a non action movie version of Michael Bay. You could argue that his best movie was A Time To Kill, which paled in comparison to the original novel.
But interestingly enough, his work on Batman and A Time To Kill actually didn't play a role in determining if Schumacher was right for Phantom. Why? Because Schumacher was Andrew Lloyd Webber's first choice and attached him to the project.....in 1989.
The story is that Webber saw Schumacher's The Lost Boys and really liked the way he used music throughout the movie. So he made Schumacher his first choice to direct the film and the two started developing it over the next 15 years. Was it because Schumacher had any previous experience directing musicals? Nope. It was simply because Webber loved the The Lost Boys soundtrack, which I admit is pretty good. Perfect recipe for a brilliant directing job.
Why was Minnie Driver in this movie? Seriously. She couldn't sing the role of Carlotta, so they had to dub her. She couldn't even master a decent Italian accent. Her career wasn't exactly on the upswing either, so casting her for "star power" makes little sense. The only reason I can think of to explain her casting is that someone though, "We need a stuck up, obnoxious, no talent, Diva, I know! Let's get Minnie Driver! She's not busy or anything!
Because it's a movie version of The Phantom of the Opera
Let's be honest, was there anyway a movie could have improved the source material? It's not like the original musical is some sort of genius masterwork. With the exception of two or three songs, the show is pure melodramatic pretentious cheese.
This film serves as a cautionary tale of how not to adapt popular musicals into film. Studios should have listened better because sadly, the year after Phantom came out, we got the dreadful adaptations of RENT and The Producers. But those are different columns for different times.