It was everything audiences might ever want. It was not, however, everything movie critics can ever need.

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They stated it wouldn’t make it. They claimed it would never amount come anything. They said it was as well loud, too weird, too lowbrow, as well populist. Castle scoffed and also scorned.

But the sharpest indigenous couldn’t cut it down. 3 months after its release, The best Showman — a flashy movie music starring Hugh Jackman as a sanitized variation of P.T. Barnum — is one of the many successful crate office hits of every time, a feat that seemed unthinkable ~ its dismal showing its an initial weekend in theaters.

Jackman and co. Have sung and also danced their ways right into the mind of moviegoers anywhere the world, and also the payoff has actually been stunning. By some measures, The biggest Showman’s success viewpoints that of a film prefer Titanic.

The movie is everywhere. Its huge number, “This Is Me,” winner a golden Globe and was nominated because that an Oscar; it to be featured in both declaring for NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage and also the figure skating exhibition gala, and also it’s been covered by Kesha. Yes a Greatest Showman IMAX experience and Greatest Showman sing-alongs, Greatest Showman-themed SoulCycle rides and Greatest Showman sermons throughout America. You deserve to be particular people will be crooning “Rewrite the Stars” in ~ karaoke very soon.

But what is this movie? whereby did it come from? through what measure up is that popular? and what go its popular indicate about critics, audiences, and the movie business?

What is The biggest Showman?

The greatest Showman is a movie musical loosely based upon the life the circus impresario P.T. Barnum — a.k.a. The best showman. That a long-gestating passion project for Hugh Jackman, who spent practically a decade in between stints as Wolverine make the efforts to get the film made. It was announced in 2009, through Jackman collection to star; in 2011, Michael Gracey (with whom Jackman had actually shot a Lipton Iced Tea commercial) was announced as the director of the project.

20th Century Fox because that years, movie studios no seem too persuaded that they wanted to invest in a musical. It take it a long time to obtain 20th Century Fox on board — yet come on board they did, perhaps seeing the vast appeal the musicals choose Hamilton and also movie musicals choose La La soil and Les Misérables, in i m sorry Jackman likewise starred. The film got in production in November 2016, v a cast that had Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Broadway stalwart Keala Settle. It premiered a year later.

The greatest Showman is a variation of Barnum’s life story, scrubbed clean that the well-documented racist, exploitative bits. In this rendition that the story, Barnum is a dreamer and a visionary, a household man whose wealthy, high-class in-laws scoff at his lowbrow, vulgar aspirations to game the masses. Barnum ring up a group of “freaks” and also performers — a moustache lady, a strongman, a dwarf, trapeze artists — and also convinces a playwright (Efron) to end up being his service partner, a relocate the playwright’s snobby family members finds baffling. The circus is a wild success, though human being in the city condemn it as a breeding ground for “abominations,” protesting and picketing.

Meanwhile, Barnum meets Jenny Lind (Ferguson), the famed Swedish soprano, and promises to make her a star in America by promoting a whirlwind tour anywhere the country. However as castle travel, Barnum starts come drift from his moorings and also must go back to his root to find true happiness.

The movie is driven by its music, composed by Benj Pasek and also Justin Paul, the Oscar- and Tony-winning songwriting duo behind Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land. Many of the songs feel much more like height 40 pop than display tunes, and they’re infectious. The soundtrack, released 2 weeks prior to the film’s theatrical debut, spent multiple mainly in the No. 1 slot top top the Billboard album charts.

Even past its music, though, The biggest Showman’s very nice is obvious. That a PG-rated movie aimed in ~ families, v a feel-good message of empowerment and a brightly colored, populist layout that winter its subject matter. It coaxes viewers to just let walk of your inhibitions and also enjoy the ride — a plea underlined in the type of a snobby doubter character, plainly meant to mirror anyone that starts reasoning too hard about the movie while they’re watching it. The learns his class in the end, and so, The greatest Showman suggests, should we.

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How effective is The biggest Showman?

A narrative has actually grown up about The best Showman — probably prompted through the movie’s critic storyline — the it was critically reviled but audiences loved it and made it a success, proving the critics wrong and, in a roundabout way, validating Barnum’s (and Jackman’s) totality enterprise.

This isn’t entirely right. Critics certainly did not take on the movie en masse, but it scored a 48 rating on Metacritic and a 56 percent Rotten tomato rating, which is just 4 points shy of gift rated “fresh.” Those numbers indicate a lukewarm reception: Some doubters liked the movie, part hated it, and also a lot had mixed feelings around it. (One reason for this is Jackman’s performance, which is so buoyant and also full of happiness that it’s difficult not come smile.)