I don't really have the authority to be comparing the film and broadway production. I'm not a real critic after all, and what do I know about theater, honestly? But I am one of the people who have seen both shows, so I'd say my opinion about this matter is more useful than most others. I wish I'd read the book too though so this would be like a triple review thingie. Anyway...
The movie was certainly easier to understand than the broadway musical, or at least it was for me. The film was able to elaborate on the thoughts and feelings of the characters as they could make the characters whisper among themselves and have individual conversations in one sequence. The dialogue was clearer (or maybe it was just because I was sitting far from the stage of the Majestic Theatre at the time), and they had the advantage of the use of flash backs. The idea of making the "present time" in black and white, and the story of the Phantom, which was really a flashback, in color was just brilliant. And the way the pictures on the screen would change color gradually, especially at the start of the film was literally breathtaking, so, bravo! for cinematography and special effects.
I can't help but be more impressed about the effects in the theatre production though, as of course, they didn't use blue screens and other digital stuff there. And although in the movie they were able to show that the Phantom's lair was really far away from Christine's dressing room in the opera house, as there was more scenery at the time they were heading for it, I really didn't get why Christine had to get on a horse to pass through a short hallway that they could just as easily have walked.
It was great that they used the same soundtrack the broadway show has for the film. Those songs and instrumentals are way beautiful after all. Although, and probably because it was being sung/played by an orchestra live, there seemed to be more emotion in the music in the theatre production. I cried in the film, at the exact same parts I cried during the broadway musical, but I felt sadder when I was watching the broadway show. The scene where the Phantom overhears Raoul and Christine's theme song (All I Ask of You), is just more hurting, when you know the sound is not coming from afar. In the movie, because it was just background music, it wasn't really clear that the Phantom could still hear the characters singing, as the music could just as well have been part of his imagination, or the film's musical score.
And the "last" scene, where Christine's friend Meg picks up the Phantom's mask after his disappearance, just didn't have as much impact in the film as it did in the musical. Somehow, in the film, because Meg left the screen right after picking the mask up, and the camera zoomed in on the music box with the monkey on it, the music box became more relevant than the Phantom's leaving his mask. But I guess the film needed that since the real last scene in the movie (which was no longer in the musical) was when Raoul placed the music box on the Christine's grave, and saw, to his surprise, a single rose with a black ribbon tied around it--exactly like the one the Phantom gave Christine the night she first sang the lead in the opera, already on the grave.
Maybe that's how the story really ends in the book, but as I haven't read it, I won't be able to tell. In any case, I guess I liked the broadway production better than I did the film, but the film is great as well. Not that you can go wrong with a story like that, but anyway, it was worth the P150.00 Greenbelt 3 charged.
Just to add more information, the actress who plays Christine in the movie has never seen the broadway musical before, and when she told Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer, producer, etc. etc.) this, he was delighted, as he figured that she would then be able to bring a new and original interpretation of the character to the screen. And I must say, I think she did a very good job. The usual expression on her face is exactly, what I think Christine's character is all about.