Well...I saw a screening of this film a few weeks ago. I work in the industry and this was a private screening for the Society of Composers & Lyricists. Andrew Lloyd Webber was in attendance and held a question and answer session afterwards. I have to say. It has been a long time waiting for this popular stage musical to finally hit the big screen. Apparently the rights to the film were held by someone other than Andrew Lloyd Webber back in the 90's. (I remember reading articles about a Phantom of the Opera movie back with the original cast a long time ago and that when Lord Webber and Sarah Brightman's marrage ended, the movie pretty much stopped production as well). Since a movie was not made in a specified period of time, the rights for the film reverted back to Andrew Lloyd Webber and here we are today. That was then, this is now. The Film (out of four) The film is utterly amazing. For the most part, the film is sung through the entire way as it was on stage, but there are some lines spoken. These were carefully chosen by Webber. Everyone in the film sings their own lyrics except Minnie Driver. She is an accomplished singer in her own right, but just not an operatic soprano. Her singing voice is dubbed with that of Margaret Preece. Ironically, a new song was written for the film by Webber that was to go in the Mascarade scene. In the end, they cut this new song from the film because Webber said it just didn't work. But the decision was made to put the song in over the end title credits. And the person who sings the song on the end credits is none other than Minnie Driver. SO...the only person who was over dubbed in the film, is the singer who is singing on the end title credits. Go figure. If PHANTOM does not get an oscar nomination for set design and/or costume design, there is truly something wrong in the world of film. The film is georgious. Visually stunning in every way. I was in awe of how this amazing muscial, which I had seen on stage many times, came to life on the big screen. Don't let the fact that Joel Schumaker directed this film scare you. Webber was in control of a lot of this production and it shows. Schumaker was Webbers choice for director and it seems their collaboration in bringing this story to the big screen has paid off. The film is pretty faithful to the stage musical. There is just one section that delves into the history of the Phantom and how he came to be. This is new to Webber's story. Also, interesting to note that according to Webber, about 60% of the songs vocal performances were sung on set, recorded in real time as they acted out the scenes. Only certain spots of the film had to be re-recorded later to get better vocal performances. Emmy Rossum's voice and performance as Christine is amazing. Hard to believe she was only 16 when she did this last year. I equally enjoyed Patrick Wilson's performance as Raoul. Minnie Driver is funny as Carlotta...a bit over the top...but funny. The orchestral score is huge since the revised orchestrations and arrangements of Webber's score were recorded with a full symphony orchestra. (There is a 2 CD limited edition Soundtrack of all the music out. I highly recommend you buy that one instead of the 1 CD highlights album). There is but one gripe I have with the film and it is a big one unfortunately. Gerard Butler looks and acts a pretty good Phantom...BUT I HATE his singing voice. I just don't like it. It is too "rock and roll" of a voice for the Phantom of the Opera in 1800s Paris, France. At times, his angry Phantom voice sounds like he is screaming. But who am I to second guess the casting of a Phantom when it is supervised by its creator? But, I yerned for the sweet tenor voice of someone like Anthony Warlow (the original stage Phantom in Sydney, Australia) or of course Michael Crawford. But alas...they are too old now, especially with the role of Christine being cast so young. If you are looking for a wonderful film to see around the holidays, the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA should definitely be on your list.