Fact: 80 million people have watched Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage musical Phantom Of The Opera across 65,000 performances in 18 countries to a box office of $3.2 billion. Safe to say, then, that Joel Schumacher's glossy, glitteryscreen adaptation has a built-in audience.
Good job, too, because there's little here to suggest that Schumacher's Phantom has the necessary razzle or the obligatory dazzle to cross over to multiplex viewers - otherwise known as "doing a Chicago". The odd foray into the Parisian streets and the occasional swirling shot of the Opera Populaire's grandiose exterior aside, it very much plays like a filmed version of the stage show. With close-ups.
Which is fine, if that's what you want. After all, you can't go too far wrong with the core ingredients: opulent sets, outrageous costumes, a melodramatic love triangle and, of course, that score, ranging from Christine's (Emmy Rossum)aria `Think Of Me' to the Phantom's (Gerard Butler) power ballad `The Phantom Of The Opera'. It also comes equipped with at least one stand-out set-piece, the masked menace sending a gargantuan chandelier crashing into the scurrying audience.
Less commendable is Schumacher's bid to turn Phantom into a traditional backstage musical. Introducing a flurry of hoi polloi who hustle and bustle through mini-dramas as they struggle to get the show up and running, he's so busy running upstairs-downstairs that he fails to hit upon anything of note.
Thankfully, however, his key players hit their notes just as you'd please, with Patrick Wilson bringing his Broadway credentials (Oklahoma!) to bear and Rossum proving something of a revelation: the actress formerly known as The Girl From Mystic River can sing like an angel.
And Butler? Not an expert warbler, perhaps, but his lack of finesse is papered over by gusto, charisma and good old-fashioned volume. It's Phantom as frontman. And it's just about enough.