We go through our top six choices for movies that would make great musicals.
No, sci-fi may not be the first genre you think of to combine with musicals, but beloved stage and screen classics like Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show have science fiction elements. Not to mention that we’ve already seen films like Back to the Future, Barbarella, and Young Frankenstein made into stage musicals.
Is there room for more sci-fi musicals? We think so, and here are our picks for six films that would be perfect for a musical metamorphosis.
6. Total Recall (1990)
Just thinking about director Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and how it unfolds gives you instant ideas not just about how a musical version of the sci-fi action thriller would unfold, but what songs we’d hear. In the film, construction worker Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), yearning for more excitement, pays to have false memories implanted into his brain of an exciting vacation on Mars. Unfortunately, Quaid turns out to be a sleeper agent with his true persona suppressed, and paying for the service unlocks his more violent side.
A sci-fi musical of Total Recall would no doubt open with Quaid singing about his boring, unfulfilling life and how he’s always felt he was destined for greatness. Of the songs we’d hear, there would need to be one titled “Get Your Ass To Mars.” We’d also hope there would be a sad duet delivered by the mutant Kuato and his loyal meat puppet (Marshall Bell).
5. The Fifth Element (1997)
The beloved sci-fi classic The Fifth Element stars Bruce Willis as hard-boiled cab driver Korben Dallas who is stuck with the task of protecting Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), one of the Supreme Beings of the Universe who is sent to Earth to save it from the Great Evil. Hunting for Leeloo is the merciless Zorg (Gary Oldman), the Great Evil’s agent on Earth.
If you’ve ever seen The Fifth Element, you probably don’t need any explanation as to why or how it would make for a great sci-fi musical. Music is an incredibly important part of the film as it is; for example shortly after we meet Korben a junkie tries to rob him, and when Korben takes his gun from him, the junkie literally breaks into dance.
The Fifth Element‘s Ruby Rhod wound up being the breakout role for Chris Tucker of Rush Hour fame, and the eclectic celebrity would need at least one or two songs dedicated just to him.
4. Predator (1987)
It’s the sci-fi film that spawned a franchise, in spite of no one seeming to like of much what followed until 2022’s Prey. A powerful alien hunter stalks an elite squad of American soldiers led by Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger). One by one the soldiers are eliminated until it comes down to a match between Dutch and the ruthless alien.
We know Predator would make a great sci-fi musical, in part, because it’s already been done… kind of. Back in 2011, Legolambs posted their Predator: The Musical video to YouTube, serenading the internet with the earworm “If It Bleeds We Can Kill It.”
3. Demolition Man (1993)
When John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is awakened from his cryogenic prison in 2032, the world has changed. Police carry electric batons instead of guns, physical sex is outlawed, and if you swear you get fined by a robot voice that spits receipts at you from the nearest wall. It’s in this supposedly kinder, gentler atmosphere that Spartan is tasked with bringing in his old enemy, Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes).
The sci-fi action flick is begging for a musical adaptation. The musical numbers would absolutely need to include “The Three Shells,” “Taco Bell,” and perhaps even a song that’s just John Spartan swearing and the walls’ robotic voice announcing his fines.
2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Star Trek is one of sci-fi’s most iconic franchises, and of all its films, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home would make the perfect musical.
As Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew are on their way to Earth to take responsibility for the crimes they committed to save Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the heart of the Federation comes under siege from a probe whose destructive signal can only be answered by the song of humpback whales — an extinct species in the 23rd century. To save their home, the heroes brave a dangerous time jaunt to the late 20th century in hopes of recovering a humpback whale and returning to the future with it.
This sci-fi musical writes itself, and every member of the heroic crew would get their own numbers. Spock would no doubt have a song titled “Colorful Metaphors” and perhaps a duet with the pregnant whale he briefly mind melds with. McCoy (James Doohan) would belt out “Hello, Computer” while Chekov (Walter Koenig) would impress us all with “Nuclear Wessel.”
1. Mars Attacks! (1996)
Of all the sci-fi films on this list, Mars Attacks! is the biggest no-brainer for musical treatment. The sci-fi comedy featured a massive ensemble cast including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, and more. While the people of Earth initially believe the visiting Martians are here for peaceful purposes, the long list of characters in Mars Attacks! quickly starts getting shorter as the terrifying little Martians lash out.
Mars Attacks! would be the perfect sci-fi musical because it is, in fact, music which ultimately saves the day. Humanity is saved only because of the discovery that Slim Whitman’s yodeling classic “Indian Love Call” causes the aliens‘ heads to explode into goo.