Rock of Ages has rocked Calgary and is rolling on to Edmonton

The smash hit musical Rock of Ages recently made its debut in Calgary following the failure of the silver screen adaptation that hit theaters this past June.

Rock of Ages first premiered on Broadway in 2009 – grossing over $84 million and selling almost one million seats, according to broadwayworld.com.

By comparison, Rock of Ages the movie hit theaters last June, grossing a disappointing $38.5 million in the U.S. by Aug. 12, according to IMDb.

The total budget for the Tom Cruise-headlined film was estimated at $75 million making it a very pricey box office mistake.

University of Victoria film studies Professor Michael Giampa said the movie – which follows a young small town girl and boy who travel to the Sunset Strip during the 80s era to peruse their dreams as musicians – “should have worked on paper (because) it had a lot of stars.”

But, according to Giampa that was also part of the problem.The total budget for the Tom Cruise-headlined film was estimated at $75 million making it a very pricey box office mistake.

Photo by Brittany Fong

“When you watch a Broadway musical you know that those are the people singing, and you don’t know them as celebrities, but when you remove that, and you know what they look like, it kind of changes the experience.”

The United Kingdom’s Mail Online also blamed director Adam Shankman for the failure, noting, “He also directed three of the worst comedies in history: Cheaper By The Dozen 2, The Pacifier and The Wedding Planner.”

But University of Calgary Broadway theatre professor John Reid believes the musical – which won five Tony Awards in 2009 – will continue to do well.

Reid said that’s because Broadway is “unique, there are a number of production values in it like the live richness of singing, and seeing live performances.”

Giampa agreed, adding, “I don’t think that the movie is going to affect the show. Not enough people saw the movie, and I think that a lot of people realize the difference.

“People who are theater fans will go to good theater, and if it has been reviewed well in the theater that’s what their going to base it on.”

Indeed, Brad Walker, the vice-president of the company promoting Rock of Ages, predicted Rock of Ages the movie would have no had no impact on the show when it premiered in Calgary during the week of Oct. 23 at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium.

“Calgarians have been supportive of the Broadway Across Canada’s theater productions being a very cultured and eventful city, it shows the maturity of the city and their response to the Broadway shows.”

And it seems that his prediction has come true.

“I can say that the engagement of Rock of Ages was a complete success,” said Walker in a later emailed interview, “As always Calgary embraced another spectacular production.”

bfong@cjournal.ca