Bohemian Rhapsody easily won the box office this weekend, scoring one of biggest debuts for its genre in process. As one could garner from the title, the film follows the exploits of the legendary Freddie Mercury and his band Queen, leading up to their iconic performance at Live Aid in 1985. Anyone with even passing knowledge of the group knows Mercury’s life was ripe for the biopic treatment, which is why people tried to get one off the ground for years. After an attempt by Sacha Baron Cohen (which would have been a warts-and-all exploration) fell apart, the film that became Bohemian Rhapsody came into fruition.
Unfortunately, Bohemian Rhapsody was seen by many as a fairly standard, by-the-numbers look at Mercury, one that received criticism for its handling of certain aspects of his life. One of the reasons why the producers pursued a more family-friendly PG-13 rating was to allow the movie to appeal to numerous demographics. On that front, the business decision paid off and Bohemian Rhapsody is off to a startling start.
According to Box Office Mojo, the film earned $50 million in its first three days, far exceeding expectations and outgrossing Oscar frontrunner A Star is Born. This is also the second-highest opening weekend for a music biopic, trailing only Straight Outta Compton ($60.2 million), the 2015 film about famed rap group N.W.A.
Bohemian Rhapsody is already a profitable endeavor for Fox. Its production budget came in at around $50 million, and so far its worldwide total is $141.7 million. Though the movie wasn’t a critical darling, it isn’t too surprising things turned out this way. Queen’s music remains immensely popular and the band has a large following. Obviously, many of their fans were interested in seeing Mercury’s life dramatized for the big screen and came out in full force. It’ll be interesting to see if Bohemian Rhapsody’s commercial performance has any impact on its awards prospects. The film itself isn’t seen as much of a threat, but Rami Malek’s turn as Mercury is universally praised and might be a dark horse for a Best Actor nomination. Even if the biopic strikes out when it comes to awards, Fox will be very happy with their investment.
Elsewhere in the top five, new releases The Nutcracker and the Four Realms ($20 million) and Nobody’s Fool ($14 million) came in second and third, respectively. Both titles received far worse reviews than Bohemian Rhapsody, which hurt their box office prospects. Rounding out the top five was the aforementioned A Star is Born with $11.1 million and Halloween with $11 million. The latter is now Blumhouse’s second highest-grossing film of all-time, trailing only Get Out.