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Phantom film fulfils Lloyd Webber dream

Category: Phantom of the Opera News
Article Date: December 23, 2004 | Publication: The London Free Press | Author: LOUIS B. HOBSON

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NEW YORK -- It took a motion picture, but Andrew Lloyd Webber finally has the monkey off his back. LLoyd Webber created The Phantom of the Opera 18 years ago and it has haunted him ever since.

"It has been an extraordinary success. I'll probably never have another that will equal it," says Lloyd Webber.

"We have no fewer than 30 productions of Phantom playing around the world at any given time.

"I think the film is the final step in a long but incredibly rewarding journey. The film puts Phantom to rest for me."

Joel Schumacher's film version of The Phantom of the Opera opened yesterday, starring Gerard Butler as the opera ghost, Emmy Rossum as Christine, his young protege and dark obsession, and Patrick Wilson as the wealthy aristocrat who also wants Christine's heart.

Lloyd Webber was in New York in 1984 when he saw a bookstore window with a new edition of Gaston Leroux's 1911 tale about a deformed genius living in the catacombs under the Paris opera house.

Lloyd Webber bought a copy and read it in one sitting.

"I was struck by the idea that, at its heart, it was a great gothic romance."

He told director Hal Prince about his find. "Hal said if I wrote it, he'd stage it and that's what happened two years later."

Phantom opened in London on Oct. 9, 1986, starring Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, who at the time was Lloyd Webber's wife.

In 1989, Lloyd Webber approached Schumacher to direct a film version. But plans languished for more than a decade until Schumacher announced he was seriously interested in doing the film.

Lloyd Webber says he wanted a film version so "it will now be available to far more people."

Copyright The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003


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