Rocketman is rated R and made the bold choice to fully explore Elton John's sex and drugs lifestyle. The movie shows sex scenes between men, and that's still seen as controversial in a few markets, which limits the overall audience. The filmmakers figured that would be the case, but made the decision anyway to be true to Elton's story.
Still, Rocketman actually over-performed from its initial projection of a $20 million domestic opening. It opened to an estimated $25 million opposite very stiff competition. Rocketman opened in third place at the U.S./Canada market, and it has already made more than $30 million overseas at this point for a current worldwide total of $56,200,000, per Box Office Mojo.
Bohemian Rhapsody, on the other hand, had a November 2018 opening weekend of $51 million at the domestic box office.
Taron Egerton plays Elton John in the new biopic and he said he'd be happy to make even half of Bohemian Rhapsody's money. Rocketman is not likely to make that much overall, but the domestic opening was about half of Bohemian's domestic opening. So there you go.
Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman semi-share a director in Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher directed all of Rocketman and the very end of Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was fired.
Critics have been kinder to Rocketman than Bohemian Rhapsody, but fans gave the Rami Malek/Freddie Mercury movie an A CinemaScore vs. A- for Taron Egerton/Elton John. The Rotten Tomatoes Audience Scores are just about the same so far, but Bohemian has way more overall ratings, so there's no way to compare that fairly quite yet.
Bohemian Rhapsody just kept making money week after week, especially overseas, and also picked up some Oscars. Bohemian Rhapsody made $216.4 million at the domestic box office, which is impressive enough, but it picked up a staggering $687 million at foreign markets for an overall total of $903,655,259. No one saw that coming, and no one expects to see it again anytime soon.
A Star Is Born was also an R-rated music movie -- although not a music biopic -- and it made $42.9 million in its October 2018 opening. Worldwide, it went on to make $434 million.
Rocketman has controversy hurdles to pass, though, when it comes to markets like Russia where gay content is censored. It's possible the censorship will make some fans more eager to buy tickets to support the film anyway in protest. Who knows. As of now, Paramount says it's releasing the film uncut around the world, but local distributors follow their own laws.
Will Rocketman see Oscar glory like Bohemian Rhapsody? The release date will hurt it there, since Rocketman is likely to be lost in the pack once the fall movies arrive. But we'll see. Keep up with everything heading to theaters this year with our 2019 movie release guide.