"The movie musical was not an unusual thing for previous generations," says Leonard Jacobs, national theater editor of Back Stage magazine. "But it's somethingdifferent, something new to the current generations."
Each of these successful new musicals had "a great soundtrack," says "Mamma Mia!" co-producer Judy Craymer."'Dreamgirls' and 'Hairspray' aimed at a younger audience and that's a huge audience for Hollywood to capture."
Time was when the musical was one of Hollywood'smost reliable genres. Whether adapting Broadway successes or creating original musicals for the screen, the studios pumped out tons of tune-filled filmsthroughout the 1930s, '40s and '50s.
But sometime in the late 1960s, the audience appetite for musicals began to wane. Show tunes were replaced by rock ballads.Characters breaking into song in the middle of a dramatic scene began to look silly. And some notorious bombs put the genre on life support.
"The audience that went tothe movies in the 1960s had a familiarity with the stage - they would see school plays, Broadway plays," says John Kenrick of www.musicals101.com, which is devotedto stage and screen musicals.
"But that has disappeared from our culture and it's now possible for a New York City student to go through school without seeing astage production. For them, something like a film musical seems odd; they aren't used to seeing people bursting into song."
"Hollywood musicals went out offashion because people could find that kind of entertainment elsewhere, in concerts and on TV," says Craymer. "So they became old-fashioned and slightly quaint."
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