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The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is a 2017 American musical drama film directed by Michael Gracey in his directorial debut, written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon and starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. The film is inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum's creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus and the lives of its star attractions.

The Greatest Showman
The Greatest Showman poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Gracey
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by Jenny Bicks
Music by
Cinematography Seamus McGarvey
Edited by
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 8, 2017 (2017-12-08) (RMS Queen Mary 2)
  • December 20, 2017 (2017-12-20) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $84 million[2]
Box office $340.1 million[3]

Principal photography on the film began in New York City in November 2016, and it premiered on December 8, 2017 aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2. The film was released in the United States on December 20, 2017 by 20th Century Fox and has grossed over $340 million worldwide.

The Greatest Showman received mixed reviews, with praise for Jackman and the rest of the performances, music and production value but criticism aimed at the artistic license taken, with some reviewers calling it "faux-inspiring and shallow".[4][5][6] At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, the film received nominations for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Musical or Comedy for Jackman. For the song "This Is Me", the film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 90th Academy Awards.[7]



The movie begins with P. T. Barnum and his troupe performing a show at the circus ("The Greatest Show"). We then flashback to Barnum's childhood where he and his father, Philo, a tailor, work for the Hallett family, and he becomes infatuated with their daughter Charity. Though Charity is being sent to finishing school, Barnum reassures her they will not be separated. The two keep in touch through letters until they meet again in adulthood ("A Million Dreams"), eventually marrying and raising two daughters in New York City ("A Million Dreams" reprise). They live a humble life; though Charity is happy, Barnum dreams of more.

Barnum loses his job as a clerk at a shipping company after the company goes bankrupt. Taking a risky bet, he takes out a large loan from a bank, deceiving the bank into accepting his former employer's lost ships as collateral. He uses this loan to buy Barnum's American Museum in downtown Manhattan, an attraction showcasing various wax models. Initially, sales are slow; on the suggestion of his children to showcase something "alive", he searches for "freaks" to serve as performers for his museum ("Come Alive"). This attracts a large audience, despite protests and poor reviews, prompting Barnum to rename his venture "Barnum's Circus".

Searching for ways to further his reputation amongst the upper class, he meets playwright Phillip Carlyle and convinces him to join his venture ("The Other Side"). Carlyle is enchanted with Anne Wheeler, an African-American trapeze artist, but he hides his feelings. During a trip Carlyle arranged for Barnum and his troupe to meet Queen Victoria, Barnum meets Jenny Lind, a famed Swedish singer, whom he convinces to perform in America, with him serving as her manager. Lind's first American performance is a rousing success ("Never Enough"). While Barnum gains favor with the aristocratic patrons, he begins to distance himself from his original troupe, refusing to socialize with them. Dejected, they decide to stand against their local harassers ("This Is Me").

Carlyle and Wheeler attend the theatre together one night, only to run into Carlyle's parents, who insult Wheeler's lowly status, causing her to leave. Carlyle chases her and tries to convince her that they can be together, but she rejects him despite her feelings towards him ("Rewrite the Stars"). As Barnum takes Lind on a U.S. tour, Charity feels isolated from her husband as she stays home with their children ("Tightrope"). While on tour, Lind begins falling in love with Barnum, but when he refuses her advances, she calls off the tour and kisses him at the end of her last show, which is photographed by the press ("Never Enough" reprise). Barnum returns home to find his circus on fire, caused by a fight between the protesters and the troupe. Carlyle, who had tried to save Anne not knowing she had already escaped, is rescued amid the chaos by Barnum but suffers severe burns. Most of the sets and props are destroyed. Word of Lind's cancellation and Barnum's public intimacy also reaches New York, resulting in his mansion being foreclosed upon and Charity taking their daughters back to her parents' home.

Depressed, Barnum starts drinking at a pub. His troupe find him there and persuade him to rebuild the circus. Barnum has an epiphany that causes him to realize the circus was for his friends and family rather than for himself ("From Now On"). Meanwhile, the injured Carlyle wakes in a hospital with Wheeler by his side and they share an intimate moment together.

Barnum leaves and finds his estranged wife, and they decide to mend their relationship. Faced with the financial difficulty of rebuilding the circus, the recovering Carlyle steps in, offering to use his earnings from his share of the circus's profits to rebuild it under the condition of becoming partners, which Barnum happily accepts. As rebuilding the circus in its original location would be too expensive, Barnum rebuilds it as an open-air tent circus by the docks. The new, revamped circus is a huge success and Barnum gives full control of the show to Carlyle so he can focus on his family ("The Greatest Show" reprise).



The project was first announced in 2009, with Jackman already set for the title role.[10] In August 2011, Michael Gracey was chosen to direct.[11] In 2013, Fox hired lyricists Pasek and Paul to write the songs.[12] According to Jackman, the seven year development process was, in part, due to studios being unwilling to take a risk on an original musical.[13] Jackman mentioned that he took inspiration from Shah Rukh Khan for the film. Among other traits, Jackman used Khan's signature pose in the film.[14][15]

On June 15, 2016, Zac Efron began negotiations to star in the film,[16] and in July 2016, Michelle Williams was cast.[17][18][19][20]


Rehearsals on the film began in October 2016 in New York City, and principal photography began on November 22, 2016.[21][22]


In December 2017, it was reported that James Mangold, who had worked with Jackman on several projects (including 2017's Logan), had been brought in to oversee the film's reshoots and post-production. This was due to the studio's concern that Gracey, a first-time director, was overwhelmed with the scope of the film and struggling with the pressure of an $84 million budget. Mangold was eventually given an executive producer credit.[23]


Musical numbersEdit

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote nine songs.[24]

  1. "The Greatest Show" – Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Zac Efron, Zendaya
  2. "A Million Dreams" – Ziv Zaifman, Jackman, Michelle Williams
  3. "A Million Dreams" (Reprise) – Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Jackman
  4. "Come Alive" – Jackman, Settle, Daniel Everidge, Zendaya
  5. "The Other Side" – Jackman & Efron
  6. "Never Enough" – Loren Allred
  7. "This Is Me" – Settle
  8. "Rewrite the Stars" – Efron & Zendaya
  9. "Tightrope" – Williams
  10. "Never Enough" (Reprise) – Allred
  11. "From Now On" – Jackman


The soundtrack album features eleven tracks performed by the cast.


The Greatest Showman held its premiere on December 8, 2017 aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2, while it was docked in New York City. The film was then released in the United States on December 20, 2017.[25][26] Like Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast, a sing-along version of the film will be released in the United Kingdom on February 23, 2018.[27] The film had a limited IMAX release on February 2.


On June 28, 2017, 20th Century Fox released the first international trailer to promote the film. On November 13, 2017, the second trailer was released.[28]

On December 17, 2017, Fox televised a live performance of "Come Alive" from Warner Bros. Studios during its live musical special A Christmas Story Live! (which was based on fellow Pasek and Paul work A Christmas Story: The Musical). The number featured the film's stars and a cast of 150 dancers.[29][30]


Box officeEdit

As of February 15, 2018, The Greatest Showman has grossed $154 million in the United States and Canada, and $185 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $340 million, against a production budget of $84 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, The Greatest Showman was released alongside Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and was projected to gross around $21 million from 3,006 theaters over its first six days.[31][32] It took in $2 million on its first day and $2 million on its second. Over the three day weekend, it grossed $9 million (for a six-day total of $19 million), finishing fourth at the box office, behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Pitch Perfect 3.[33] In its second weekend, the film grossed $15.5 million, again finishing 4th at the box office.[34] The weekend-to-weekend increase of 76.3% marked the largest ever for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters, and the fourth biggest ever.[35][36] In its third week the film dropped 11% to $14 million.[37]

The film made $13 million in its fourth weekend and $11 million in its fifth, finishing 4th and 5th at the box office, respectively.[38] The film continued to hold well in its sixth week of release, grossing $9.5 million and returning to 4th place,[39] and again finished fourth in its seventh week, this time grossing $7.8 million (a drop of just 18%).[40]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 55% based on 203 reviews, and an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Greatest Showman tries hard to dazzle the audience with a Barnum-style sense of wonder – but at the expense of its complex subject's far more intriguing real-life story."[41] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[42] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while it earned a 70% "definite recommend" from comScore.[33]

Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a positive review, writing, "The Greatest Showman is a concoction, the kind of film where all the pieces click into place, yet at an hour and 45 minutes it flies by, and the link it draws between P.T. Barnum and the spirit of today is more than hype."[43] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3/4 stars, saying, "With all that corn and cheese and old-timey sentiment, The Greatest Showman ends up scoring some very timely social arguments. P.T. Barnum himself would have approved the dramatic sleight of hand."[44] Steve Persall of Tampa Bay Times gave the film an 'A', and said, "The Greatest Showman is the feel-good movie the holiday season needs,"[45] while William Bibbiani of IGN gave The Greatest Showman a score of 7.9/10, and called the film, "wildly entertaining."[46]

Britton Peele of The Dallas Morning News said, "The story is interesting and the beats are well-acted, but it's the musical numbers that make The Greatest Showman."[47] Jackie K Cooper of HuffPost gave the film a score of 10/10 and wrote, "You will be overwhelmed by the music and magic that explode on the screen. The film has a message that should resonate with today's world concerning acceptance and courage."[48] Hugh Armitage of Digital Spy said, "The Greatest Showman is a broad and solid crowd-pleaser. An undemanding spectacle for all the family."[49] Alan Jones of Radio Times called it "A joyously uplifting potpourii of visual resplendence, stylish choreography and solid gold magic, one engineered to approximate the lavish spectacle the movie musical once offered."[50]

Sheila O'Malley of gave it 3.5/4, stating "The Greatest Showman is an unabashed piece of pure entertainment punctuated by memorable songs."[51] Douglas Davidson of CLTure called the film, "An undeniable spectacle with a infectious soundtrack, a movie that dazzles and delights."[52] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film a 3/4 score, and said, "The film has show-stopping well-choreographed numbers with catchy tunes,"[53] and Calvin Wilson of St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the film "highly enjoyable."[54]

Carl Kozlowski of Pasadena Weekly gave the film an 'A', calling it "Groundbreaking & grandly innovative."[55] Sean P. Means of The Salt Lake Tribune gave The Greatest Showman 3.5/4 stars, stating, "A strong cast give emotional power to this romanticized, tune-filled biography."[56] Manuela Lazic of Little White Lies gave it 4/5, saying, "The Greatest Showman deserves to become a Christmas classic. the film's severe romanticism and ridiculous but affecting enthusiasm make it irresistibly life-affirming."[57] Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and called it, "A fantasia of song and dance, a joyous exercise in pure entertainment that is made for the holiday crowd."[58]

Conversely, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a negative review, criticizing the songs and characters and saying "There's idiotic, and there's magnificent, but The Greatest Showman is that special thing that happens sometimes. It's magnificently idiotic. It's an awful mess, but it's flashy. The temptation is to cover your face and watch it through your fingers, because it's so earnest and embarrassing and misguided – and yet it's well-made."[59] In a negative review for The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney wrote "This ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story."[60]

Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, saying, "How do you cast a virtuoso Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, spare no expense in production values, add a score by Oscar and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and still end up with the shrill blast of nothing that is The Greatest Showman? Ask first-time director Michael Gracey, who cut his teeth on commercials and music videos without ever mastering the crucial knack of building snippets of musical comedy and drama into a satisfying whole."[61] Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film's failures "are rooted in something deeper: a dispiriting lack of faith in the audience's intelligence, and a dawning awareness of its own aesthetic hypocrisy. You've rarely seen a more straight-laced musical about the joys of letting your freak flag fly."[62]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards February 5, 2018 Best Grownup Love Story The Greatest Showman Won [63][64]
Academy Awards March 4, 2018 Best Original Song "This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Pending [65]
Casting Society of America January 18, 2018 Big Budget – Comedy Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, Rori Bergman and Patrick Goodwin Won [66]
Costume Designers Guild February 20, 2018 Excellence in Period Film Ellen Mirojnick Pending [67]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Song "This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Nominated [68]
Dorian Awards February 24, 2018 Campy Flick of the Year The Greatest Showman Nominated [69]
Empire Awards March 18, 2018 Best Costume Design The Greatest Showman Pending [71]
Best Make-up And Hairstyling The Greatest Showman Pending
Georgia Film Critics Association January 12, 2018 Best Original Song "This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Nominated [73]
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy The Greatest Showman Nominated [74]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Hugh Jackman Nominated
Best Original Song – Motion Picture "This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Won
Guild of Music Supervisors Awards February 8, 2018 Best Music Supervision for Film: Budgeted Over 25 Million Dollars Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Pending [75]
Best Song/Recording Created for a Film "This Is Me" – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Pending
Heartland Film Festival December 31, 2017 Truly Moving Picture Award Michael Gracey Won [76]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild February 24, 2018 Feature Motion Picture: Best Period and/or Character Makeup Nicki Ledermann, Tania Ribalow and Sunday Englis Pending [77]

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit