Box-office receipts for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis topped $150 million in the U.S. and Canada earlier this month, according to boxofficemojo.com. The film, starring Austin Butler as the King, Elvis Presley, is the third-highest-grossing music biopic in terms of domestic box-office (which the site defines as the U.S. and Canada) since the mid-1970s.
Here are the 25 top-grossing biopics of musicians in terms of domestic box-office. The films cover a wide range of genres. Pop/rock artists are the focus of eight the 25 films, followed by R&B (four); rap and traditional pop (three each); country, Latin and classical (two each); and contemporary Christian (one).
Biopics of five of the 10 artists who comprised the inaugural induction class at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dot this list. In addition to Elvis, there are biopics here of James Brown, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Methodology: Boxofficemojo.com maintains lists of top-grossing films searchable by dozens of “genre keywords.” Under “music,” we manually extracted biopics, which we define as films in which actors portray the musicians. Four of the biopics listed here aren’t listed under music on the boxofficemojo.com site, so we manually inserted them, using boxoffice figures found elsewhere on the site.
Boxofficemojo.com’s research dates back to the mid-1970s, so music biopics released before that, such as 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues (about Billie Holiday) and 1968’s Funny Girl (about Fanny Brice) aren’t listed here. But a sequel to Funny Girl, released in 1975, is present and accounted for.
Here are the 25 biopics of music stars with the highest domestic grosses: