Why Do Audiences Love “the Greatest Showman?”

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P.T. Barnum may have died in 1891, but his name has lived on for more than a century through the circus he established. Although The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus closed last year, a new movie may help to continue Barnum’s name into the future. “The Greatest Showman” was recently released and is based on some true elements of Barnum’s life.

Prior to the holidays, “The Greatest Showman” was released with minimal media promotion compared to most Hollywood productions, yet it has been a box office success for weeks. What has drawn so many to see the movie especially when many critics have not been kind in their reviews?

  • Although the movie is larger than life, it is relatable. Most of us have fond memories of attending the circus as children or with an enamored child. There is no denying that the circus in person or on the big screen draws crowds.
  • The cast and characters were diverse as a circus would be making it easy for the audience to possibly relate to one or more character story lines. Even if the audience could not find a character to relate to, Hugh Jackman lit up the screen, and it is difficult not to be drawn in by his charisma. The storyline and the lovability of Jackman’s portrayal of Barnum makes audiences wish for Barnum to succeed. And who doesn’t love Hugh Jackman?
  • The songwriter’s original songs made the movie successful hands down. Not only did the songs move the story forward and build on the characters, but they are songs that audiences likely wish to hear over and over again. Many people have points in their life where the words of “This is Me” or “Never Enough” may resonate with a personal struggle.
  • Audiences love a good impossible love story, and the musical contained two. Barnum and Charity’s love story would have been forbidden due to their drastic social statuses in life. He was dirt poor and she lived in high society. Phillip and Ann were the other love story and their interracial relationship coupled with their different social status made them a relationship audiences championed as the movie progressed.
  • It’s a musical! Although Hollywood rarely produces a musical anymore, audiences still love a great show, and it was The Greatest Show.


Writer Bio: Summer Bolte

I spend most of my time and days with my three kids, husband and dog. My kids frequently play near me as I garden, cook, DIY and volunteer. My most unusual paying job has to be feeding fruit flies in a research lab, and my most fulfilling job was being an oncology nurse for seven years.  

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