According to Monday’s box office numbers, “The Lion King” has officially surpassed “The Phantom of the Opera” as Broadway’s highest grossing show of all time. Should Simba decide to celebrate, as I think all of us would, by withdrawing those proceeds from the bank in single dollar bills and jumping in the giant pool of money, he’d be rolling around in a pile of $853,846,062.
“The Lion King” has something of a size advantage; the show is held in a bigger theater. Plus, anyone who has tried to score a ticket to the most expensive puppet show since ever knows the average price for a seat is $155.09, whereas a “Phantom” ticket costs $98.97.
Still, how impressive is this? Extra-impressive, considering “Phantom” opened in January 1988 and “The Lion King” didn’t make its Broadway debut until November 1997. No need to feel too sad for the half-masked opera man, though: “Phantom” is in its 24th year and is still the longest-running show in Broadway history, having sold 4.8 million more tickets than “The Lion King.” “Phantom” also still boasts higher worldwide gross than “The Lion King,” $5.6 billion to $4.8 billion.