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Step right up to see The Greatest Showman, which hit theaters Dec. 20 after seven years in development. In a series of whimsical and colorful musical numbers, Greatest Showman brings the menagerie of P.T. Barnum's traveling three-ring circus to life on the big screen. The musical biopic was inspired by the imagination and innovation of Phineas Taylor Barnum, who "helped invent show business," according to Hugh Jackman. Loosely based on the real-life visionary, the film shows how Barnum (Jackman), a family man, turned his misfortune into a world of mystique and magic that would become the "Greatest Show on Earth." The release of the film seems timely after the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus broke down its wonder-filled tents for the last time in May.
Not only does the film bring together a star-studded cast (Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams, to name a few), but it also features the highly acclaimed songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The pair won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for their songs in La La Land and a Tony award for their musical score in Dear Evan Hansen. Meanwhile, former visual effects wizard Michael Gracey makes his directorial debut, having won the job after insisting that what was initially intended as a traditional biopic be a musical instead.
Earlier this month, the movie scored three Golden Globe nominations, for best motion picture, musical or comedy, best actor in a musical or comedy film for Jackman and best song for Pasek and Paul's "This Is Me."
Read more below to see how the cast compares to their larger-than-life counterparts from 146 years ago.
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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures