Different Phantoms for Different Problems
By 1990, Kim Newman was writing in the Monthly Film Bulletin that “several competing Phantom-related projects” had recently reached or would soon be reaching the film or television “screen”—and even the stage, it turned out—obviously “to cash in on the stage success of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s romantic musical” (Newman, 173. The production of such “knock-offs” has been prolific indeed. They have generally had far less commercial and even critical success compared to the London-andBroadway production, but the title itself has turned out to be built-in insurance for almost any project, at least up to a point, as when the 1989 “quickie” film starring Robert Englund (“Freddy Kruger” in the Nightmare on Elm Street films) cost $2.8 million, yet had pre-showing commitments of $5.8 million before gathering in a weak $2 million over its opening weekend (Variety Nov 8, 1989). One direction this flurry has taken has also been back to the musical stage, where several different Phantoms have been presented throughout the 199os, including revivals of Ken Hill’s version (Hill, iii), all as substitutes for the Lloyd Webber play, in areas outside central London, New York, or Los Angeles. These versions sometimes appear in deceptive ads to be the reigning musical itself—using the logo of a mask just different enough from the one in posters for the Lloyd Webber show—so that audiences seem to be getting the “real thing” as parts of musical-series subscriptions, when in fact they are not.
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