When it comes to trends in Hollywood, comic book movies and horror get the bulk of the headlines, but not to be ignored is the impact of music-centric features. Last year we saw Michael Gracey's The Greatest Showman become a massive surprise at the box office, and both Ol Parker's Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born have both been big hits in 2018. Now the latest studio-produced musical feature has arrived in the form of Bryan Singer's Bohemian Rhapsody, and it just had an opening weekend bigger than any of those aforementioned titles. Check out its numbers and the rest of the Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis!
Bohemian Rhapsody doesn't hold the record as the biggest opening weekend for a musical biopic, as F. Gary Gray's Straight Outta Compton set that bar at $60 million back in 2015, but this is still clearly a successful launch. Queen has long been regarded as one of the most popular rock bands of all time, and the numbers for the new movie certainly support that idea. Freddie Mercury, who is portrayed by Rami Malek in the film, is certainly a pop culture icon, and audiences purchased tickets en masse to watch his story unfold on the big screen.
Despite some behind the scenes controversy that saw director Dexter Fletcher step in for Bryan Singer after he disappeared from set, one element that has sincerely helped the new movie is that it is a legitimate crowd-pleaser. The film managed to earn an impressive "A" on CinemaScore, suggesting that Bohemian Rhapsody is a movie that has audiences singing along. While I have not personally seen the full feature, I did get to preview many of the epic concert sequences a couple months ago, and they are legitimately jaw-dropping, fun, and get your heart beating fast.
The positive response from general audiences comes despite a very mixed response from critics - many of whom couldn't get over the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody basically plays out very similar to pretty much every musical biopic you've ever seen. Really, though, that should be the least of the feature's concerns when looking at the road ahead. Unlike September and October, which until recently have previously been known to be quiet months, November has been regarded as the reawakening of blockbuster season in recent years, and 2018 is stacked. Looking ahead there's a new contribution to the Harry Potter franchise - David Yates' Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - and some very highly-anticipated sequels: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston's Ralph Breaks The Internet and Steven Caple Jr.'s Creed II. And that's not even taking into consideration what's arriving as its competition in its second weekend (which I'll get to at the end of this article!)
All of Bohemian Rhapsody's success would be much easier to celebrate if it were the only new wide release in theaters this weekend, but sadly that wasn't the case. There were two other new titles that hit thousands of screens this weekend - and while the Queen biopic did very well, the same cannot be said for Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and Tyler Perry's Nobody's Fool.
To start with the new Disney movie, which landed second place with a $20 million take, one should note that this conclusion makes a lot of sense when you consider the path that the film took to get to theaters. While its release date never moved, this is a movie that notably had to go through multiple reshoots, most notably with a filmmaker and writer who weren't part of principal photography in Fall 2017 (which is why there are two directors credited). It did very limited promotion and screenings leading up to its release, and it currently has a 35% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that this one made less than half of what what Bohemian Rhapsody pulled in - though there still might be hope for it overseas.
When you consider the year that Disney has had so far, one can assume that they will be totally fine taking this loss. They've been behind four of the Top 10 films worldwide in 2018, with three of those titles making more than $1 billion. This doesn't even factor in what the company has coming up, as surely the losses of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms will be absorbed by not only Ralph Breaks The Internet, but also Rob Marshall's Mary Poppins Returns at the end of December.
The numbers for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms are bad, but those for Nobody's Fool are worse. Sure, not all of Tyler Perry's movies open at number one, but its rare for any of his titles to only make $14 million in their first three days. In fact, the results for this one pin it as the third weakest opening for a Perry-directed feature, beating out only 2007's Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls ($11.2 million) and 2014's Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club ($8.1 million).
So what's the problem? There are actually multiple elements to point at, as Nobody's Fool was a first for Tyler Perry in multiple respects. For starters, it's the first movie he's made that was distributed by Paramount Pictures instead of Lionsgate. Also, while the director does have a history helming R-rated movies, this is the first comedy that he's made with that classification. It's possible that one or both of these things could have contributed towards audiences not engaging with the film.
Will Bohemian Rhapsody and Queen be able to wear the box office crown two weeks in a row? As hinted at above, that's not very likely. Once again we are seeing a trio of wide releases hitting theaters, including Fede Alvarez's The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story, Julius Avery's Overlord, and Illumination Entertainment's Dr. Seuss' The Grinch. One of the those titles will be the new number one film in America (hint: it's the last one), but we'll just have to wait until next Sunday to see how everything shakes out.