Box of­fice cham­pion

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ANOUSHA SAKOUI and AMANDA AL­BRIGHT

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.

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