With the recent release of Elvis, jukebox movie musicals have always managed to bring audiences to hear previously released music interwoven into the narrative of the story. In order to be a jukebox movie musical, the music must be a part of the story and mostly non-diegetic, meaning that they are not part of the world, such as a staged performance.
These movies range from animated family comedies to romantic dramas that feature a variety of songs from pre-existing works. Oftentimes, these movies reenvision songs to fit in accordance with the story. According to Rotten Tomatoes scores, these are the most well-reviewed jukebox musicals of all time.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
10 Sing (2016) - 71%
The animated Sing, produced by Illumination of Minions success, centers on Buster Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughey, who brings together a group of animals to perform a talent show in an attempt to bring back the local theater. The musical is filled with their own rendition of popular hits like "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.
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The movie, starring Jennifer Hudson, Scarlett Johannson, and more, was well-reviewed for its successful incorporation of popular music in a heartwarming yet hilarious movie for the entire family. While criticized for its script, fans and critics agreed that its infectious optimism was held up with well-executed voice performances by the cast, like Jennifer Hudson, Scarlett Johannson, and more. An equally well-received sequel, Sing 2, was released in 2021.
9 The Blues Brothers (1980) - 73%
The first spin-off of a Saturday Night Live sketch, The Blues Brothers starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd who continue the story from the sketches. In the movie, Jake and Elwood Blues team up to raise money "on a mission from God" to rescue their old orphanage by playing music and getting into mishaps every now and then.
Created as an homage to the rhythm and blues genre, the soundtrack features covers of a plethora of famous R&B songs like "Gimme Some Lovin'" and was praised for its incorporation of R&B greats with memorable cameos from artists like Ray Charles, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin. Fans and critics alike felt that the movie accurately captured the culture of the rhythm and blues genre and was successful in its homage.
8 Trolls (2016) - 75%
Based on the popular toy brand, the animated Dreamworks movie Trolls, released in 2016, follows cheerful and optimist Poppy, voiced by Anna Kendrick, and miserable anti-singing Branch, voiced by Justin Timberlake. They must work together to save their friends from being eaten by the Bergens.
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The movie features a variety of hits that cover mostly reworked pop songs including "The Sound of Silence" by Anna Kendrick and "September" by the entire cast. It was praised for its vibrantly colorful animations, song choices that both adult and child audiences could enjoy, and performances by artists like Zooey Deschanel, James Corden, and Gwen Stefani.
7 Moulin Rouge! (2001) - 76%
Over twenty years before his Elvis musical would release, Baz Luhrmann directed Moulin Rouge! featuring reworked versions of popular songs from the second half of the twentieth century. Starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, the story follows young Christian who falls in love with the club-renowned star Satine at a glamorous nightclub in Paris.
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The movie was considered a box office success and it received a nomination for Best Picture. It is considered one of the best jukebox musicals of the twenty-first century for its inventive use of songs of various genres to fit its Parisian aesthetic production design that hooked audiences then and now. Its reworked songs such as "Roxeanne" by The Police into "El Tango De Roxanne" revealed the work that went into the overall production.
6 Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again (2018) - 79%
In a vibrant sequel to Mamma Mia!, one of the most popular jukebox musicals of the 21st century, Amanda Seyfried's Sophia Sheridan is working on opening the hotel bought by her mother, Meryl Streep's Donna Sheridan. At the same time, the movie follows young Donna Sheridan, played by Lily James, who arrives on the island for the first time and meets three different men.
Like its predecessor, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again continues to use ABBA's greatest hits to tell its story with songs like "Dancing Queen" and "Waterloo," which is considered Here We Go Again's best song. With a higher production budget and a larger cast, the movie received better reviews than the original for its creative storyline and inviting and euphoric songs, despite some criticisms for its convoluted timeline and song-driven plots that also plagued the original.
5 All That Jazz (1979) - 87%
In directing his semi-autobiographical film, considered his best movie according to IMDb, Bob Fosse wanted to return to the roots of his childhood, especially in the first half of the twentieth century before he became the world-renowned Broadway choreographer and dancer. The musical featured songs from other musicals, such as "There's No Business Like Show Business" from the 1946 musical Annie Get Your Gun.
Following Fosse's Chicago success in 1975, the movie received four Academy Award wins and is preserved in the National Film Registry. The jukebox musical was divisive in its meta-perspective that often relied on Fosse's cynical perspectives on the business and was considered a self-indulgence project, yet Fosse still received rave reviews for his performance.
4 Rocketman (2019) - 89%
Rocketman, released in 2019, is an Elton John biopic starring Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Kit Connor. Rather than follow the conventional biopic route and include Elton's songs as stage performances, the team made it a jukebox musical and wove Elton's music into the narrative as performances by the characters to express their sentiments.
Featuring Elton's hits such as "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," the film produced by Elton John himself became a box-office success and earned Elton John an Oscar for Best Original Song. Egerton was praised for his performance as Elton John and the feel-good radiant performances of songs that have been cemented in music history won audiences and critics over. It also received praise for its depiction of John's queerness and for rejecting censorship of any kind.
3 Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) - 90%
Considered the earliest known jukebox musical in the Golden Age of Hollywood, Yankee Doodle Dandy was a biographical jukebox movie musical that followed George M. Cohan, considered one of the most famous music composers of the late 19th century. The movie featured his own music, such as the titular song and "You're A Grand Old Flag."
The movie received praise for its performances, especially James Cagney who played Cohan, and its well-written and delightful script. Moreso, it was considered a box office success because most Americans had at least heard Cohan's songs, even presently, and received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Its legacy as a jukebox biopic got it on American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest movies in the twentieth century.
2 Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) - 100%
Starring one of the most prolific actresses of all time, Judy Garland, Meet Me In St. Louis follows a year in a family's life as they prepare for the World's Fair in 1904. In order to set the story in 1904 as much as possible, the musical team used popular songs from the time, such as the titular "Meet Me In St. Louis," used at the actual 1904 World's Fair.
Judy Garland was praised for her memorable and vibrant performance while the musical itself received raving reviews from audiences and fans alike for its charming look at familial life that welcomed audiences of any kind. While the movie featured existing popular songs, three new songs were written for the movie, including the well-known "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."
1 Singin' In The Rain (1952) - 100%
Considered one of the best-reviewed films of all time with a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, Singin' In The Rain was released in 1952 to rave reviews and starred Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor. The movie features music previously released and written by Arthur Freed for older existing musicals, particularly from 1929-1939.
The jukebox movie musical showcased that the reinvention of music for newer stories can guarantee a more memorable soundtrack for audiences. Its musical numbers energized audiences, young and old, in a display of radiant colors and memorable dance numbers that cemented its position, not only in movie musical history but film history overall.
NEXT: 10 Best Musicals Of All Time According to IMDb