The scene opens in black and white in the year 1919. The dilapidated Paris Opera House holds an auction. Raoul, the Viscount of Chagny, an old wheelchair-bound man, purchases a coveted music box in a shape of a monkey in Persian robes and playing cymbals. During the auction, he sees a familiar face Madame Giry, whom he met as a young man ("Prologue"). The next piece, lot 666: is a chandelier in pieces which has been restored and newly wired with electricity. As the auctioneers display the restored chandelier, which illuminates and slowly rises to its old place in the rafters the opening crescendo of music wipes away the years of decay and dust from the opera house as the black and white turns into colour, and is transported back in time to 1870 ("Overture").
During a show rehearsal, the opera house is put into the hands of two new owners, Richard Firmin and Gilles André. Madame Giry the ballet mistress and the mother of Meg Giry, introduces them to Christine Daaé, a young but talented singer who was orphaned at seven, being the only daughter of the Swedish violinist, Gustave Daaé, revealed later by Madame Giry. Young Raoul is introduced to the cast as the patron. Christine recognizes him from her childhood. ("Hannibal") The lead soprano Carlotta Giudicelli performs an aria for the managers but a backdrop falls almost crushing her. Outraged, Carlotta refuses to continue perform that night and storms off. Meanwhile Madame Giry receives a note from the mysterious "Opera Ghost" The Phantom of the Opera, who lives within the opera house and is believed to be a ghost. The note says he welcomes the new mangers, reminds them of his due salary of 20,000 francs per month, and that instructs that they leave box five empty for his usage for every performance. Firmin and André say they will cancel the show because of Carlotta's absence. Madame Giry insists that Christine can sing it because she's had lessons from a great teacher, whose name is still a mystery to Christine. At first the managers have doubts about her, but Christine proves to be worthy when she sings for them. During Christine's performance, Raoul recognizes her from his childhood ("Think of Me").
After the performance Meg finds Christine in a small room where she lights a candle for her deceased father. She asks Christine how she learned to sing so well. Christine explains that an Angel of Music comes and teaches her. She has never seen him but she thinks her father sent him from heaven. But it is really the Opera Ghost, or Phantom of the Opera, who teaches her. When Christine returns to her dressing room, Madame Giry gives her a single rose with a black ribbon on it from her teacher. Saying that he is pleased with her. ("Angel of Music"). She then reunites with Raoul , her childhood sweatheart and they recall their past together fondly. She tries to tell him about the Angel of music but Raoul invites her to dinner with him. She declines saying that the Angel is very strict; but Raoul doesn't listen and leaves to order a carriage ("Little Lottie").
The Phantom silently locks Christine in her room and sings to her about his displeasure that Raoul is trying to court her. Christine apologizes asking him to come to her and he reveals himself by appearing in her mirror. He takes her hand and he leads her away. Raoul pounds at the locked door and hears The Phantom’s voice in the room (“The Mirror/Angel Of Music Reprise”). Christine goes with the Phantom to his lair through the stone labyrinths underneath the opera house ("The Phantom of the Opera"). The Phantom reveals to Christine that he loves her and wants her to stay with him. She is spellbound by his voice and he shows her a mannequin of herself wearing a wedding dress she faints in his arms. He gently carries her to a bed ("The Music of the Night").
Up above, Joseph Buquet the chief scene shifter tells the ballet girls terrible tales of the mysterious Opera Ghost. Madame Giry warns Buquet to hold his tongue ("Magical Lasso"). Later Christine awakes to find the Phantom composing. Curious, she takes off his mask, and he bursts into a fit of rage, rounding on her furiously. He tearfully explains that he only wants to be like everyone else, and that he hopes she will learn to love him in spite of his face. She returns his mask to him and the two have a moment of understanding before he returns her to the surface (“I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It”).
The next morning Firmin and André have both receive notes from the opera ghost telling them how to run "His" Opera House. Carlotta also gets one telling her not to perform that night. Then Madame Giry reads out another note from the ghost. It says that Christine is to perform that night as Countess. If they do not obey, a disaster beyond their imaginations will occur ("Notes"). Firmin and André ignore the orders of the notes convincing Carlotta is their star and that she will perform as the Countess. They cast Christine as the page boy which is the silent role ("Prima Donna"). During the performance of Il Muto, the Phantom tampers with her throat spray and Carlotta starts croaking like a toad ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh"). The managers halt the performance saying it will continue soon with Christine performing as Countess. While they keep the audience entertained with the ballet, the Phantom hangs Buquet in front of the audience. Christine flees in fear with Raoul following her. She takes Raoul to the roof reveals to him that she has seen the Phantom. ("Why Have You Brought Me Here"). Raoul tells Christine he loves her and will protect her forever. She says she loves him too and they kiss passionately ("All I Ask Of You") Then both leave the roof. The Phantom who witnessed everything becomes heartbroken that Christine loves Raoul and his love for her is unrequited. He hears them both singing, grows furious at Raoul and vows revenge on him. ("All I Ask Of You (Reprise)").
Three months later, a masquerade party ensues in the opera house. Christine is now engaged to Raoul but wears the engagement ring round her neck, wanting it to be a secret. Raoul insists that the engagement doesn't have to be a secret, but Christine fears that The Phantom will find out (“Masquerade”). The event is interrupted by the Phantom who is dressed as Red Death. He gives them an Opera which he has written called "Don Juan Triumphant" and instructs everyone in the room of his expectations of how his opera is to be performed. At the sight of Christine's engagement ring, the Phantom rips it from her neck, declaring she belongs to him and vanishes ("Why So Silent?"). Madame Giry takes Raoul to her room and tells him the Phantom's story. 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 and tortured while everyone watched and laughed. The ringmaster then removed a burlap sack covering the child's face, revealing his deformity. Only she did not laugh but pitied him. She was the last to leave and saw the child strangling the ringmaster with a rope. The Guards began pouring in to arrest him. But she helped him escape and found him shelter in the opera house. She tells Raoul how he has hidden from the world ever since. ("Madame Giry's Tale/The Fairground")
That night Christine orders a carriage. The Phantom fears she is running away and secretly takes over the reins. After changing she tells the driver (The Phantom) to take her to the Cemetery. Raoul follows them on horseback ("Journey To The Cemetery"). Christine arrives and walks through the snow wishing her father was back with her. She sits down by his grave and lays down some roses ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom then tries to win her heart back by singing to her, posing as her father's ghost. She almost goes with him but Raoul arrives and stops her. A fierce swordfight ensues between the two in the cemetery, while Christine watches in horror. Raoul eventually disarms the Phantom and is about to kill him when Christine pleads for him not to. The Phantom watches angrily as Christine and Raoul ride away ("Wandering Child/The Swordfight")
Raoul makes a plan to capture The Phantom at that night's performance, by having the police force within the theatre. Knowing The Phantom will attend if Christine sings ("We Have All Been Blind") Christine begs not to sing admitting she is afraid of the Phantom and tells Raoul he will never stop trying to recapture her. Raoul and says that she must perform if they are to catch the Phantom and comforts her ("Twisted Every Way"). That night they perform The Phantom's written Opera with as the leading lady. The Phantom kills Piangi who is the leading man and takes his place on the stage with Christine ("Don Juan"). In the lyrics of the song The Phantom sings of his love for Christine. Though knowing Raoul is watching, Christine sings of her own feelings to The Phantom and agrees to go with him. Raoul can do nothing but tearfully watch from the audience as The phantom lovingly embraces her in his arms("The Point Of No Return"). She caresses his face but once again removes his mask revealing his deformities. The audience screams in fear, but Christine shows that she is no longer afraid and shows him pity. He runs off with her, after a series of tense, chaotic sequences, including dropping the chandelier and setting the opera house on fire ("Chandelier Crash")
The Phantom brings Christine down into his lair and forces her to don the wedding dress off the mannequin of herself. While an angry mob led by Meg is searching for the Phantom, Madame Giry shows Raoul the way to The Phantom's lair and Raoul goes to rescue Christine ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer") The Phantom once again professes his love to Christine, and gives her the engagement ring he stole from her. Instead Christine tries to console the Phantom about his deformed face, saying she does not fear his ugliness. Just then Raoul arrives to rescue Christine, only for The Phantom ties him to a portcullis and threatens Christine with a moral dilemma. If she stays with him and becomes his wife, Raoul goes free. But if she refuses, Raoul dies and she goes free. Raoul begs her to let him die so she can be free. After reflecting on the impossible decision, she kisses him lovingly on the lips, telling him that he is not alone in the world. The Phantom is taken aback because he has never experienced real human love before. Ashamed of his murderous actions, he frees them both and tells them leave him and never return("The Final Lair"). He finds comfort in a musical box with a monkey figurine. Christine approaches him and he tells her that he loves her. She silently gives him back the ring so he has something to remember her by and leaves with Raoul. With tears in his eyes he watches Christine and Raoul row away, before Christine looks back for the final time. After they're gone the Phantom smashes every mirror in his lair and disappears through last mirror behind a curtain into a secret passage.
- Gerard Butler - The Phantom
- Emmy Rossum - Christine Daaé
- Patrick Wilson - Raoul de Chagny
- Minnie Driver - Carlotta Giudicelli
- Ciarán Hinds - Richard Firmin
- Simon Callow - Gilles André
- Miranda Richardson - Madame Giry
- Jennifer Ellison - Meg Giry
- Victor McGuire - Ubaldo Piangi
- Kevin McNally - Joseph Buquet
- Murray Melvin - Reyer
- James Fleet - Lefevre
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.[