What’s So Great About ‘The Greatest Showman’?


Zac Efron, left, and Hugh Jackman in “The Greatest Showman.”

Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox

Why do people like “The Greatest Showman”?

When the movie starring Hugh Jackman was released in December, our critic Jason Zinoman said it was solidly meh. It’s “a montage sequence that occasionally turns into a movie musical,” he wrote. And the box office numbers seemed to back him up, opening to an underwhelming $13.2 million — not great for an $84 million production.

Music writers were just as unimpressed. The soundtrack, by the “La La Land” guys Justin Hurwitz and Benj Pasek, is “populist to a fault, every song a Voltron-esque evocation of various current pop and rock stars,” Rob Harvilla wrote in The Ringer.

But something funny has happened in the weeks since the musical opened. Moviegoers really like this tale of P.T. Barnum’s early years and have turned both the movie and its music into bona fide hits. The box office total is $138 million and counting, and the album, which just went gold, is No. 1 on the Billboard chart. The Oscar-nominated “This Is Me,” belted by Keala Settle as the bearded lady, is still in the Hot 100, though dropping.