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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

A Collaboration 15 Years in the Making
This holiday season, Andrew Lloyd Webber, director Joel Schumacher and Warner Bros. Pictures will proudly present The Phantom of the Opera, the highly anticipated film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's celebrated stage musical.

Based on Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Webber's musical phenomenon is the largest grossing stage or screen production in the world, having garnered worldwide box office receipts over $3.2 billion.

Since its debut in London's West End at Her Majesty's Theatre on October 9, 1986, the enduringly popular musical has reached an estimated audience of 80 million people. More than 65,000 performances of Phantom have been staged for theatergoers in 18 countries around the world. In August of 2003, the show marked its 7000th performance. Productions of Phantom have earned over 50 major awards, including three Olivier Awards, seven Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critic's Circle Awards.

The first Broadway production of Phantom opened at New York's Majestic Theatre in January of 1988, and has since gone on to become the second-longest running musical in Broadway history (after Lloyd Webber's Cats), playing to more than 10.3 million people. Current productions on Broadway at the Majestic, in London at Her Majesty's and the United States tour continue to set records, thrilling audiences and garnering critical acclaim.

Released in 1987, the musical's original cast recording, featuring performances by Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine, is the biggest selling cast album of all time, having sold over 40 million copies. It was the first cast album in British musical history to enter the charts at number one, and has since earned gold and platinum status in both the UK and the United States.

A testament to Phantom's enduring popularity is a plan, currently in the works, for a permanent theatrical installation of the musical, to be housed at the Venetian hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the spring of 2006, a 90-minute version of the show will open in a brand new, $25 million state-of-the-art theatre, designed and built specifically for the musical production. The Venetian's Phantom will boast a ground-breaking series of cutting-edge special effects, including an onstage lake and an exploding replica of the Paris Opera House chandelier. 

Long awaited by Phantom fans, director Joel Schumacher's sumptuous film adaptation takes audiences beyond the boundaries of theatre and immerses them in a vibrant world of high romance, soaring music, riveting suspense and drama, while introducing the powerfully compelling story to a new generation of movie-goers.

Originally published in 1911, Leroux's novel has inspired numerous film and television versions of the bewitching tale, which tells of a disfigured musical genius who haunts the catacombs of Paris' preeminent opera house and finds himself transfixed by Christine, his beguiling young muse. "Andrew's version presents the Phantom as more of a tragic lover and a sensitive romantic, not just a creature of horror to be feared,” Schumacher observes. "He also made the Phantom's relationship with Christine much more of a love affair than it is in the original story.”

"Phantom is a very personal piece in my career,” says Lloyd Webber, the legendary producer-composer of such renowned musicals as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard. He is also the recipient of seven Tony awards, three Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award (for Evita). 

After taking Phantom to Broadway in 1988, Lloyd Webber approached Schumacher about helming a feature film version of the musical, having been impressed by the director's blockbuster vampire thriller The Lost Boys. "I thought Joel had an incredible visual se

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