The Lion King has overtaken The Phantom of the Opera to become the highest grossing show on Broadway.

It passed a milestone on Sunday — $853,846,062 US in cumulative gross, according to its publicist — compared to $853,122,847 US for Phantom. 

Lion King surged past Phantom after netting over $2 million at the box office for the week ending Sunday, compared to $1.2 million for the older show.

Phantom debuted on Broadway in January 1988 and, after 24 years, is the longest-running show on Broadway.

Disney’s The Lion King, which debuted in November 1997, 10 years after its rival, has higher ticket prices.

"It's a spectacle that satisfies on many different sensory elements — audio, visually, emotionally," said Cary Ginell, a music historian and biographer.

"It's also good for all ages — just like Disneyland is. For the kids, it's the visual elements — the colours, the costumes and the puppetry. For the adults, it's Hamlet, basically. And the music is not geared to one age or gender or race. It's as universal a show can get."

Phantom is a juggernaut worldwide, with international box office receipts of $5.6 billion. Many of its fans see it repeatedly and it has been seen by 130 million people.

Lion King’s international haul is a more modest $4.8 billion, but it has seven productions worldwide, with an eighth set to open soon.


With files from The Associated Press