If mathematics is the universal language, then music might be the next closest thing as great music transcends boundaries, physical, cultural and linguistic. So it should come as no surprise that Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen, is not just a domestic hit, but a global one. In addition to its American fans, Bohemian Rhapsody has become a full-fledged phenomenon in Japan and South Korea.
Bohemian Rhapsody opened in South Korea on November 1st and the film has sold a whopping 9.4 million tickets there. The $73.9 million at the box office makes South Korea the third-biggest contributor to Bohemian Rhapsody's success after the United States and Japan. Even more impressive is the fact that those 9.4 million tickets were sold in a country with 51 million people, meaning an impressive percentage of South Koreans went to see the music biopic in theaters.
That box office success is not the only indicator of the degree to which Bohemian Rhapsody has taken South Korea by storm. According to The Washington Post, the fervor around the film and Queen has seen Queen-related events popping up across the country. These include an exhibition of photos from the band's official photographer, as well as a tour put on by Queen tribute band, The Bohemians.
Queen's songs have also been in heavy rotation on South Korean television and singers from the country's K-pop bands staged a televised tribute at the end of the year. A major broadcaster even capitalized by playing the iconic Live Aid concert that was recreated in Bohemian Rhapsody's invigorating ending.
Bohemian Rhapsody opened a little later in Japan on November 10th and that market has quickly caught up and surpassed South Korea with $74.8 million according to Box Office Mojo. Word of mouth has driven the movie to huge success in Japan with people discussing the film, seeing it multiple times and singing and dancing in the theater.
One theater is even offering moviegoers a discount if they show up wearing a Queen shirt or Freddie Mercury attire. Queen has always been popular in Japan but like here in the U.S., it is the younger generation that has showed up in surprising numbers, with parents recommending the movie to their kids, showing the generational transcendence of Queen's music.
Things like the sharing of music between old and young and the dancing in the theater go against cultural norms in the country, showing that the effect this movie has had there is far from the usual.
And while Rami Malek might not be doing karaoke anytime soon, it is hugely popular in Japan and one tabloid even published tips on how to sound like Freddie Mercury when singing at karaoke bars.
Bohemian Rhapsody is hoping to keep the buzz and the dollars going as it heads into the Oscars. The film is back in domestic theaters with sing-along screenings, so that just like our Japanese counterparts, we no longer have to fight the urge to clap our hands and stomp our feet to Bohemian Rhapsody's electrifying concert scenes.
Bohemian Rhapsody is now playing. Check out our release schedule for all of the biggest movies to look forward to this year.