Hakuna Matata indeed! Although Disney’s behemoth Broadway musical The Lion King has shown no signs of wavering since its debut in 1997, the smash hit is about to conquer a musical theater milestone, becoming the first Broadway musical to top $1 billion in cumulative grosses.
EW has confirmed that the colorful crowd pleaser — based on Disney’s beloved 1994 animated feature — will hit 10 figures after the week of performances ending Oct. 20. Coincidentally, the spectacular box office feat (the first of any Broadway show) comes almost exactly 16 years to the day since The Lion King roared onto Broadway with its first preview performance on Oct. 15, 1997.
The news that The Lion King is the first show to bank $1 billion on Broadway may come as a surprise to fans of Broadway’s longest-running blockbuster The Phantom of the Opera, which has been playing the Majestic Theatre since opening in 1988 but hasn’t hit the billion-dollar mark just yet. Phantom has grossed around $5.6 billion worldwide, though, holding its own against Lion’s $5 billion international take.
Another fun fact: In just a few weeks, The Lion King is on track to overtake Les Misérables as the fourth longest-running Broadway show in history. By then, there’ll be even more cause to celebrate — and then the bug juice can really start flowing.