The Phantom of the Opera (2004 film)
The Phantom of the Opera is a 2004 British-American musical drama film based on Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux. Produced and co-written by Lloyd Webber and directed by Joel Schumacher, it stars Gerard Butler in the title role, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver and Jennifer Ellison.
|The Phantom of the Opera|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Produced by||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
The Phantom of the Opera|
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux
|Music by||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Edited by||Terry Rawlings|
|Box office||$154.6 million|
The film was announced in 1989 but production did not start until 2002 due to Lloyd Webber's divorce and Schumacher's busy career. It was shot entirely at Pinewood Studios, with scenery created with miniatures and computer graphics. Rossum, Wilson and Driver had singing experience, but Butler had none and so had music lessons. The Phantom of the Opera grossed $154.6 million worldwide and received mixed to negative reviews from critics, but was very well received by audiences. Critics praised the visuals and acting (particularly Rossum's performance) but criticized the writing and directing.
In 1919, a public auction is held to clear an abandoned opera theatre’s vaults in Paris. Viscount Raoul de Chagny, bids against the elderly Madame Giry for a papier-mâché shaped like a barrel organ monkey. The auctioneer presents a shattered chandelier, relating it to “the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera”. As it is hoisted up to the roof, the story moves back to 1870.
The theatre prepares for the performance of the grand opera, Hannibal, headed by soprano Carlotta Giudicelli. Theatre manager Monsieur Lefèvre plans to retire, leaving the theatre to Richard Firmin and Gilles André. Carlotta refuses to perform after three years' worth of torment by the theatre’s resident “Opera Ghost”, a mysterious figure said to live in the catacombs below. Facing the performance’s cancellation, Madame Giry, the ballet instructor, suggests dancer Christine Daaé, stands in as the lead actress. Christine displays her singing talents and is a huge success on opening night.
Christine tells Giry’s daughter, Meg, that she is being coached by a tutor she calls the “Angel of Music”. Christine reunites with Raoul, a new patron of the theatre, and her childhood sweetheart, but he dismisses her secrets. That night, the masked Phantom of the Opera appears before Christine, spiriting her away to his underground lair. He confesses his love to Christine, but when she removes his mask out of curiosity, he reacts violently. She returns his mask to him, and the Phantom returns her to the theatre unharmed, but orders the managers to make her the lead in Il Muto. However, the managers choose Carlotta instead.
During the performance, the Phantom tampers with Carlotta’s throat spray, causing her to sing out of tune, and Christine steps in. The Phantom encounters stagehand Joseph Buquet and hangs him above the stage. Christine and Raoul flee to the roof, where they declare their love for each other. The Phantom, eavesdropping, vows revenge.
Three months later, at a masquerade ball, Christine and Raoul announce their engagement. The Phantom crashes the ball, who orders his own opera, Don Juan Triumphant, be performed. Upon seeing Christine’s engagement ring, the Phantom flees, pursued by Raoul, but Giry stops him. Giry explains when she was a child, she met the Phantom, a deformed child treated as part of a freak show, rescuing him and hid him beneath the theatre. Christine visits her father’s tomb, the Phantom posing as his angel to win her back, but Raoul intervenes.
Raoul and the managers plot to capture the Phantom during his opera. The Phantom murders Carlotta’s lover, Ubaldo Piangi, and takes his place as the male lead to sing opposite Christine. During their passionate duet, Christine unmasks the Phantom, revealing his deformities to the horrified audience. The two escape to the catacombs, bringing down the chandelier, as a mob forms to hunt the Phantom down. Giry leads Raoul down to the catacombs to rescue Christine.
The Phantom has Christine wear a wedding dress and proposes marriage. Christine admits she does not fear the Phantom for his appearance, but his rage and willingness to kill. Raoul arrives, the Phantom threatening to kill him unless Christine weds him. Christine, pitying the Phantom, kisses him. Moved by her kindness, the Phantom allows the lovers to flee. Before leaving, Christine gives the Phantom her ring in remembrance. The Phantom finds comfort in the papier-mâché monkey, but vanishes as the mob appear, Meg finding his discarded mask.
In 1919, the elderly Raoul visits Christine’s gravestone, placing the monkey before it. Before leaving, he notices a freshly laid rose with Christine’s ring attached to it, implying the Phantom is alive.
- Gerard Butler as The Phantom
- Emmy Rossum as Christine Daaé
- Patrick Wilson as Viscount Raoul de Chagny
- Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry
- Minnie Driver as Carlotta Giudicelli
- Simon Callow as Gilles André
- Ciarán Hinds as Richard Firmin
- Victor McGuire as Ubaldo Piangi
- Jennifer Ellison as Meg Giry
- Murray Melvin as Monsieur Reyer
- Kevin McNally as Joseph Buquet
- James Fleet as Monsieur Lefèvre
- Ramin Karimloo as Gustave Daaé
Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to The Phantom of the Opera in early 1989, granting Andrew Lloyd Webber total artistic control. Despite interest from A-list directors, Lloyd Webber and Warner Bros. instantly hired Joel Schumacher to direct; Lloyd Webber had been impressed with Schumacher's use of music in The Lost Boys. The duo wrote the screenplay that same year, while Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman were cast to reprise their roles from the original stage production. Filming was set to begin at Pinewood Studios in England in July 1990, under a $25 million budget.
However, the start date was pushed to November 1990 at both Babelsberg Studios in Munich, Germany and Barrandov Studios in Prague, Czech Republic. Production for The Phantom of the Opera was stalled with Lloyd Webber and Brightman's divorce. "Everything got tied up in settlements", Schumacher reflected. "Then my career took off and I was really busy." As a result, The Phantom of the Opera languished in development limbo for Warner Bros. throughout the 1990s. In February 1997, Schumacher considered returning, but eventually dropped out in favour of Batman Unchained, Runaway Jury and Dreamgirls. The studio was keen to cast John Travolta for the lead role, but also held discussions with Antonio Banderas, who undertook vocal preparation and sang the role of the Phantom in the TV special Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration.
Schumacher and Lloyd Webber restarted development for The Phantom of the Opera in December 2002. It was then announced in January 2003 that Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group had purchased the film rights from Warner Bros. in an attempt to produce The Phantom of the Opera independently. As a result, Lloyd Webber invested $6 million of his own money. The Phantom of the Opera was produced on a $55 million budget. A further $15 million was used for marketing, bringing the final budget to $70 million. Warner Bros. was given a first look deal for distribution; the studio did not sign on until June 2003, when the principal cast was chosen.
Hugh Jackman was offered the chance to audition for the Phantom, but he faced scheduling conflicts with Van Helsing. "They rang to ask about my availability", Jackman explained in an April 2003 interview, "probably about 20 other actors as well. I wasn't available, unfortunately. So, that was a bummer." "We needed somebody who has a bit of rock and roll sensibility in him", Andrew Lloyd Webber explained. "He's got to be a bit rough, a bit dangerous; not a conventional singer. Christine is attracted to the Phantom because he's the right side of danger." Director Joel Schumacher had been impressed with Gerard Butler's performance in Dracula 2000. Prior to his audition, Butler had no professional singing experience and had only taken four voice lessons before singing "The Music of the Night" for Lloyd Webber.
Katie Holmes, who began working with a vocal coach, was the front-runner for Christine Daaé in March 2003. She was later replaced by Anne Hathaway, a classically trained soprano, in 2004. However, Hathaway dropped out of the role because the production schedule of the film overlapped with The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, which she was contractually obligated to make. Hathaway was then replaced with Emmy Rossum. The actress modeled the relationship between the Phantom and Christine after Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine. Patrick Wilson was cast as Raoul based on his previous Broadway theatre career. For the role of Carlotta, Minnie Driver devised an over-the-top, camp performance as the egotistical prima donna. Despite also lacking singing experience, Ciarán Hinds was cast by Schumacher as Richard Firmin; the two had previously worked together on Veronica Guerin. Ramin Karimloo also briefly appears as the portrait of Gustave Daaé, Christine's father. Karimloo later played the Phantom as well as the role of Raoul on London's West End.
Principal photography lasted from 15 September 2003 to 15 January 2004. The film was shot entirely using eight sound stages at Pinewood Studios, where, on the Pinewood backlot, the bottom half exterior of the Palais Garnier was constructed. The top half was implemented using a combination of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and a scale model created by Cinesite. The surrounding Paris skyline for "All I Ask of You" was entirely composed of matte paintings. Cinesite also created a miniature falling chandelier, since a life-size model was too big for the actual set.
Production designer Anthony D. G. Pratt was influenced by French architect Charles Garnier, designer of the original Paris opera house, as well as Edgar Degas, John Singer Sargent, Gustave Caillebotte, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Schumacher was inspired by Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946), where a hallway is lined with arms holding candelabra. The cemetery was based on the Père Lachaise and Montparnasse. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne utilised a limited black, white, gold and silver colour palette for the Masquerade ball.
Release and awardsEdit
The Phantom of the Opera was released in the United States on 22 December 2004. With a limited release of 622 theaters, it opened at tenth place at the weekend box office, grossing $6.5 million across five days. After expanding to 907 screens on 14 January 2005 the film obtained the 9th spot at the box office, which it retained during its 1,511 screens wide release on 21 January 2005. The total domestic gross was $51,225,796. With a further $107 million earned internationally, The Phantom of the Opera reached a worldwide total of $158,225,796. A few foreign markets were particularly successful, such as Japan, where the film's ¥4.20 billion ($35 million) gross stood as the 6th most successful foreign film and 9th overall of the year. The United Kingdom and South Korea both had over $10 million in receipts, with $17.5 million and $11.9 million, respectively.
Anthony Pratt and Celia Bobak were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as was John Mathieson for Cinematography. However, both categories were awarded to The Aviator. Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Charles Hart were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Learn to Be Lonely") but lost to "Al otro lado del río" from The Motorcycle Diaries. The song was also nominated for the Golden Globe but it lost to Alfie's "Old Habits Die Hard". In the same ceremony, Emmy Rossum was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, losing to Annette Bening in Being Julia. At the Saturn Awards, Rossum won for Best Performance by a Younger Actor, while The Phantom of the Opera was nominated for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film and Alexandra Byrne was nominated for Costume Design.
The soundtrack of the film was released in two separate CD formats on 23 November 2004 as a two-disc deluxe edition which includes dialogue from the film and a single-disc highlights edition.
The film had its initial North America video release on DVD and VHS on 3 May 2005, following its first digital release on HD-DVD on 18 April 2006 and a Blu-ray edition on 31 October 2006.
The film received mixed to negative reviews from film critics but received highly positive reviews from audiences. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 32% rotten with an average score of 5/10. "The music of the night has hit something of a sour note: Critics are calling the screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular musical histrionic, boring and lacking in both romance and danger", the consensus read. "Still, some have praised the film for its sheer spectacle". By comparison, Metacritic calculated an average score of 40/100 from its 39 reviews collected. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while it currently holds a 7.3/10 rating on IMDB.
|"The film looks and sounds fabulous and I think it's an extraordinarily fine document of the stage show. While it doesn't deviate much from the stage material, the film has given it an even deeper emotional centre. It's not based on the theatre visually or direction-wise, but it's still got exactly the same essence. And that's all I could have ever hoped for."|
|— Andrew Lloyd Webber|
Despite having been impressed with the cast, Jonathan Rosenbaum of Chicago Reader wrote that "Teen romance and operetta-style singing replace the horror elements familiar to film-goers, and director Joel Schumacher obscures any remnants of classy stage spectacle with the same disco overkill he brought to Batman Forever." Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com believed that Phantom of the Opera "takes everything that's wrong with Broadway and puts it on the big screen in a gaudy splat."
In a mixed review for Newsweek, David Ansen praised Rossum's performance, but criticized the filmmakers for their focus on visual design rather than presenting a cohesive storyline. "Its kitschy romanticism bored me on Broadway and it bores me here—I may not be the most reliable witness. Still, I can easily imagine a more dashing, charismatic Phantom than Butler's. Rest assured, however, Lloyd Webber's neo-Puccinian songs are reprised and reprised and reprised until you're guaranteed to go out humming." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly believed Schumacher did not add enough dimension in adapting The Phantom of the Opera. "Schumacher, the man who added nipples to Batman's suit, has staged Phantom chastely, as if his job were to adhere the audience to every note".
Roger Ebert reasoned that "part of the pleasure of movie-going is pure spectacle—of just sitting there and looking at great stuff and knowing it looks terrific. There wasn't much Schumacher could have done with the story or the music he was handed, but in the areas over which he held sway, he has triumphed." In contrasting between the popularity of the Broadway musical, Michael Dequina of Film Threat magazine explained that "it conjures up this unexplainable spell that leaves audiences sad, sentimental, swooning, smiling—in some way transported and moved. Now, in Schumacher's film, that spell lives on."
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- Official website
- The Phantom of the Opera on IMDb
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- The Phantom of the Opera at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Phantom of the Opera at Metacritic
- Michael Williams; Benedict Carver (1998-04-05). "Banderas drawn to 'Phantom'". Variety.