The film was announced in 1989 but production did not start until 2002 due to Lloyd Webber's divorce and Schumacher's busy career. It was shot entirely at Pinewood Studios, with scenery created with miniatures and computer graphics. Rossum, Wilson, and Driver had singing experience, but Butler had none and so had music lessons. The Phantom of the Opera grossed approximately $154 million worldwide, despite receiving mixed to negative reviews, which praised the visuals and acting but criticized the writing and directing.
In 1919, the Opéra Populaire holds a public auction to clear the theatre's vaults. Raoul, Viscount de Chagny purchases a papier-mâché music box in the shape of a monkey and eyes it sadly as Madame Giry, an aged woman dressed in black, watches him. The auctioneer then presents a shattered chandelier as the next item up for bid, explaining that it once played a key role in "the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera". As it flickers to life and slowly ascends to its original place in the rafters, the audience is transported back in time to the year 1870.
Back to this time, while the company rehearses for a performance of the grand opera Hannibal, manager Monsieur Lefèvre announces that he has decided to retire and that the opera has been purchased by Richard Firmin and Gilles André, two men who have no experience with the arts whatsoever. When resident soprano Carlotta Giudicelli begins to sing for the managers, a backdrop collapses and causes everyone to blame the "Opera Ghost", a mysterious figure who is rumored to live in the catacombs beneath the theater. Carlotta refuses to sing and storms offstage, leaving Firmin and André no choice but to cancel the performance. At the last minute, ballet mistress Madame Giry suggests that dancer Christine Daaé take Carlotta's place as she has been "well taught." The managers reluctantly agree and, to their surprise, Christine wins them over.
Later that night, after Christine's triumphant stage debut, she explains to Madame Giry's daughter, Meg, that she is being coached by a mysterious tutor who she refers to as the "Angel of Music"; a tutor who her late father said would teach her to sing. Christine returns to her dressing room to find Raoul, the opera's new patron and her former childhood sweetheart, waiting for her. The two reminisce about their youth as Christine tells Raoul her secret, only for him to laugh at her "fantasy" and invite her to dinner despite her protests. Unbeknownst to everyone, except Madame Giry, the Phantom of the Opera locks Christine in her dressing room and reveals himself in her mirror to her before hypnotizing her and taking her to his subterranean lair.
The Phantom reveals to her that he loves her and wants her to love him back. He shows Christine a bust of herself, wearing a wedding dress and veil, causing her to faint, and the Phantom places her in a bed. The next morning she awakes to find the Phantom writing music. She approaches him and removes his mask out of curiosity. He bursts into a fit of rage, covering his face with his hand. He at first says she must stay forever because she saw his deformities, revealing that he "dreams of beauty". Pitying him Christine hands him back his mask and the two have a moment of understanding. He then decides to return her to the opera house.
That morning, the two managers lament Christine's disappearance, as well as series of notes they received from the Opera Ghost trying to blackmail them for his payment and ordering them on how to run the opera house. When Carlotta returns, she is furious to find a note sent to her saying if she sang as the countess in Il Muto that night instead of Christine, then disaster "beyond [their] imagination" would occur. Firmin and André ignore the ghost's warnings and give Carlotta the lead role. That night, the Phantom interrupts the performance and criticizes their failure to follow his orders.
Carlotta continues to sing, but her voice croaks (as a result of the Phantom tampering with her throat spray) and the lead role is given to Christine. While the ballet is being performed, the Phantom encounters the chief stagehand Joseph Buquet and strangles him before hanging him from above, creating chaos. Christine flees to the roof with Raoul. She reveals to him that she has seen the Phantom's face and fears him, but also pities him because of his sadness. Raoul tells Christine he loves her and will protect her forevermore. Christine returns his love, kissing him passionately and they both leave the roof. The Phantom, who witnessed the scene, becomes heartbroken. He then hears them both singing together. Growing furious at Raoul, he vows revenge on them both.
Three months later, a masquerade party ensues in the opera house. At the party, Christine wears her new engagement ring from Raoul. The event is interrupted once again by the Phantom, who is dressed as Red Death. The Phantom brings his own composition, Don Juan Triumphant, and orders the managers to stage the opera. Raoul exits the room and Christine approaches the Phantom. At the sight of the engagement ring, the Phantom rips it from Christine and disappears into a trap on the floor. Raoul tries to follow him but is stopped by Madame Giry, who privately tells him the story of the Phantom's past. When she was a little girl, she went to a freak circus where they featured a deformed child in a cage. The child was beaten while everyone watched and laughed. The ringmaster then removed a burlap sack covering the child's face, revealing his deformity. Only the young Madame Giry pitied him. She was the last to leave and saw the child strangle the ringmaster with a rope. Chased by the police, Madame Giry helped him escape and found shelter for him beneath the opera house, where she has hidden him from the world ever since.
Christine takes a carriage to visit her father's grave, but the Phantom secretly takes over the reins. Raoul follows when he realizes she's gone. Christine arrives and laments over her father's death. The Phantom tries to win her back by pretending to be her father's angel, but Raoul arrives and stops him. A sword fight ensues in the cemetery, where Raoul eventually disarms the Phantom and is about to kill him, but Christine pleads for him not to. His rage seemingly augmented, the Phantom watches angrily as Christine and Raoul ride away.
Christine admits she is afraid of the Phantom and tells Raoul he will never stop trying to recapture her. Raoul realizes that they can use the Phantom's opera to capture him, as he will surely attend. Don Juan Triumphant is performed, and the Phantom makes his entrance (having secretly replaced the lead) with Christine. Raoul can do nothing but watch from his box as Christine falls for the Phantom yet again. However, she once again removes his mask, revealing his deformities to the entire audience, who scream in fear. He escapes with her by dropping the chandelier and setting the opera house on fire.
The Phantom brings Christine back down to his lair. Madame Giry shows Raoul where the Phantom lives, and he goes to rescue Christine. The Phantom forces Christine to don the wedding dress and once again professes his love, and orders Christine to marry him. Christine tries to convince the Phantom that she does not fear his ugliness, but rather his anger and willingness to kill to get what he wants. Just then, Raoul enters the lair, and the Phantom ties him to a gate and threatens to kill him if Christine refuses to marry him. Christine reflects over the impossible choice before passionately kissing the Phantom to show him he is not alone in the world. The Phantom is shocked from experiencing real human love for the first time in his life. Ashamed of his murderous actions, he allows Christine and Raoul to leave and orders them to never return. He finds comfort in a little monkey music box. Christine approaches the Phantom, who tells her that he loves her, and she silently gives him the diamond ring from her finger to remember her by. After Christine and Raoul leave, the Phantom smashes every mirror in his underground lair and disappears through a secret passage behind a velvet curtain just before the police arrive. Upon entering, Meg finds only the Phantom's white mask.
Moving back to 1919, the elderly Raoul visits Christine's gravesite and places the music box near her tombstone. He stands in silence for a moment and then turns to leave, but stops upon noticing a red rose with a black ribbon tied around the stem lying on the ground with Christine's engagement ring attached to it; implying that the Phantom still lives and still loves Christine.Gerard Butler as The PhantomEmmy Rossum as Christine DaaéPatrick Wilson as Viscount Raoul de ChagnyMiranda Richardson as Madame GiryMinnie Driver as Carlotta GiudicelliMargaret Preece as Carlotta's singing voiceSimon Callow as Gilles AndréCiarán Hinds as Richard FirminVictor McGuire as Ubaldo PiangiJennifer Ellison as Meg GiryMurray Melvin as Monsieur ReyerKevin McNally as Joseph BuquetJames Fleet as Monsieur LefèvreRamin Karimloo as Gustave Daaé
Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to The Phantom of the Opera in early 1989, granting Andrew Lloyd Webber total artistic control. Despite interest from A-list directors, Lloyd Webber and Warner Bros. instantly hired Joel Schumacher to direct; Lloyd Webber had been impressed with Schumacher's use of music in The Lost Boys. The duo wrote the screenplay that same year, while Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman were cast to reprise their roles from the original stage production. Filming was set to begin at Pinewood Studios in England in July 1990, under a $25 million budget.
However, the start date was pushed to November 1990 at both Babelsberg Studios in Munich, Germany and Barrandov Studios in Prague, Czech Republic. Production for The Phantom of the Opera was stalled with Lloyd Webber and Brightman's divorce. "Everything got tied up in settlements", Schumacher reflected. "Then my career took off and I was really busy." As a result, The Phantom of the Opera languished in development limbo for Warner Bros. throughout the 1990s. In February 1997, Schumacher considered returning, but eventually dropped out in favour of Batman Unchained, Runaway Jury and Dreamgirls. The studio was keen to cast John Travolta for the lead role, but also held discussions with Antonio Banderas, who undertook vocal preparation and sang the role of the Phantom in the TV special Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration.
Schumacher and Lloyd Webber restarted development for The Phantom of the Opera in December 2002. It was then announced in January 2003 that Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group had purchased the film rights from Warner Bros. in an attempt to produce The Phantom of the Opera independently. As a result, Lloyd Webber invested $6 million of his own money. The Phantom of the Opera was produced on a $55 million budget. A further $15 million was used for marketing, bringing the final budget to $70 million. Warner Bros. was given a first look deal for distribution; the studio did not sign on until June 2003, when the principal cast was chosen.
Hugh Jackman was offered the chance to audition for the Phantom, but he faced scheduling conflicts with Van Helsing. "They rang to ask about my availability", Jackman explained in an April 2003 interview, "probably about 20 other actors as well. I wasn't available, unfortunately. So, that was a bummer." "We needed somebody who has a bit of rock and roll sensibility in him", Andrew Lloyd Webber explained. "He's got to be a bit rough, a bit dangerous; not a conventional singer. Christine is attracted to the Phantom because he's the right side of danger." Director Joel Schumacher had been impressed with Gerard Butler's performance in Dracula 2000. Prior to his audition, Butler had no professional singing experience and had only taken four voice lessons before singing "The Music of the Night" for Lloyd Webber.
Katie Holmes, who began working with a vocal coach, was the front-runner for Christine Daaé in March 2003. She was later replaced by Anne Hathaway, a classically trained soprano, in 2004. However, Hathaway dropped out of the role because the production schedule of the film overlapped with The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, which she was contractually obligated to make. Hathaway was then replaced with Emmy Rossum. The actress modeled the relationship between the Phantom and Christine after Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine. Patrick Wilson was cast as Raoul based on his previous Broadway theatre career. For the role of Carlotta, Minnie Driver devised an over-the-top, camp performance as the egotistical prima donna. Despite also lacking singing experience, Ciarán Hinds was cast by Schumacher as Richard Firmin; the two had previously worked together on Veronica Guerin. Ramin Karimloo also briefly appears as the portrait of Gustave Daaé, Christine's father. Karimloo later played the Phantom as well as the role of Raoul on London's West End.
Principal photography lasted from 15 September 2003 to 15 January 2004. The film was shot entirely using eight sound stages at Pinewood Studios, where, on the Pinewood backlot, the bottom half exterior of the Palais Garnier was constructed. The top half was implemented using a combination of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and a scale model created by Cinesite. The surrounding Paris skyline for "All I Ask of You" was entirely composed of matte paintings. Cinesite also created a miniature falling chandelier, since a life-size model was too big for the actual set.
Production designer Anthony D. G. Pratt was influenced by French architect Charles Garnier, designer of the original Paris opera house, as well as Edgar Degas, John Singer Sargent, Gustave Caillebotte, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Schumacher was inspired by Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946), where a hallway is lined with arms holding candelabra. The cemetery was based on the Père Lachaise and Montparnasse. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne utilised a limited black, white, gold and silver colour palette for the masquerade ball.
Release and awards
The Phantom of the Opera was released in the United States on 22 December 2004. With a limited release of 622 theaters, it opened at tenth place at the weekend box office, grossing $6.5 million across five days. After expanding to 907 screens on 14 January 2005 the film obtained the 9th spot at the box office, which it retained during its 1,511 screens wide release on 21 January 2005. The total domestic gross was $51,225,796. With a further $107 million earned internationally, The Phantom of the Opera reached a worldwide total of $158,225,796. A few foreign markets were particularly successful, such as Japan, where the film's ¥4.20 billion ($35 million) gross stood as the 6th most successful foreign film and 9th overall of the year. The United Kingdom and South Korea both had over $10 million in receipts, with $17.5 million and $11.9 million, respectively.
Anthony Pratt and Celia Bobak were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as was John Mathieson for Cinematography. However, both categories were awarded to The Aviator. Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Charles Hart were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Learn to Be Lonely") but lost to "Al otro lado del río" from The Motorcycle Diaries. The song was also nominated for the Golden Globe but it lost to Alfie's "Old Habits Die Hard". In the same ceremony, Emmy Rossum was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, losing to Annette Bening in Being Julia. At the Saturn Awards, Rossum won for Best Performance by a Younger Actor, while The Phantom of the Opera was nominated for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film and Alexandra Byrne was nominated for Costume Design.
The soundtrack of the film was released in two separate CD formats on 23 November 2004 as a two-disc deluxe edition which includes dialogue from the film and a single-disc highlights edition.
The film had its initial North America video release on DVD and VHS on 3 May 2005, following its first digital release on HD-DVD on 18 April 2006 and a Blu-ray edition on 31 October 2006.
The film received mixed to negative reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 32% rotten with an average score of 5/10. "The music of the night has hit something of a sour note: Critics are calling the screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular musical histrionic, boring and lacking in both romance and danger", the consensus read. "Still, some have praised the film for its sheer spectacle". By comparison, Metacritic calculated an average score of 40/100 from its 39 reviews collected.
Despite having been impressed with the cast, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader wrote that "Teen romance and operetta-style singing replace the horror elements familiar to film-goers, and director Joel Schumacher obscures any remnants of classy stage spectacle with the same disco overkill he brought to Batman Forever." Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com believed that Phantom of the Opera "takes everything that's wrong with Broadway and puts it on the big screen in a gaudy splat."
In a mixed review for Newsweek, David Ansen praised Rossum's performance, but criticized the filmmakers for their focus on visual design rather than presenting a cohesive storyline. "Its kitschy romanticism bored me on Broadway and it bores me here—I may not be the most reliable witness. Still, I can easily imagine a more dashing, charismatic Phantom than Butler's. Rest assured, however, Lloyd Webber's neo-Puccinian songs are reprised and reprised and reprised until you're guaranteed to go out humming." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly believed Schumacher did not add enough dimension in adapting The Phantom of the Opera. "Schumacher, the man who added nipples to Batman's suit, has staged Phantom chastely, as if his job were to adhere the audience to every note".
Roger Ebert reasoned that "part of the pleasure of movie-going is pure spectacle—of just sitting there and looking at great stuff and knowing it looks terrific. There wasn't much Schumacher could have done with the story or the music he was handed, but in the areas over which he held sway, he has triumphed." In contrasting between the popularity of the Broadway musical, Michael Dequina of Film Threat magazine explained that "it conjures up this unexplainable spell that leaves audiences sad, sentimental, swooning, smiling—in some way transported and moved. Now, in Schumacher's film, that spell lives on."