Box office champion
Biographical film about the British rock band Queen, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ is a hit with moviegoers.
A biopic about rock ‘n’ roll front man Freddie Mercury and the band Queen led the North American box office this weekend, scoring a rare win over a new Walt Disney fairy tale that would normally be expected to dominate the competition.
The weekend’s major new releases made a clean sweep in the top three spots. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” from 20th Century Fox, collected $51.1 million from U.S. and Canadian theaters in its debut, Comscore Inc. said Monday. Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” garnered $20.4 million to land in second place, while the comedy “Nobody’s Fool,” from Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, was a step behind that with $13.7 million.
Critics were mixed on the Fox tribute to the British band, with some praising Rami Malek’s portrayal of Mercury, despite a distracting set of false teeth. Disney has successfully turned animated classics like “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” into live-action megahits. But its record with less-known titles isn’t so stellar. “A Wrin- kle in Time” and “Christopher Robin” both struggled to attract fans this year.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was forecast by analysts at Box Office Pro to open with sales of $40.7 million. The movie places Malek, who won an Emmy for his role in the TV series “Mr. Robot,” at the center of the band’s story. It traces Queen’s meteoric rise and the creation of its biggest hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Director Bryan Singer was replaced during production, though he retains his credit.
The film cost $52 million to make, before marketing costs, according to Box Office Mojo, suggesting a profitable run for the picture. According to RottenTomatoes.com, 61 percent of critics recommended the movie.
The better-than-expected opening “speaks to the universal appeal of Queen and their music,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox. The audience was evenly split by gender, and 43 percent of the audience was in the 18 to 34 age range, highlighting how the film appealed to people who weren’t Queen contemporaries.
The movie also exceeded expectations for international sales, collecting $122.5 million globally.