Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is a box-office champion, soaring to a $50 million launch in North America, the second biggest start of all time for a music biopic behind Straight Outta Compton ($60.2 million), even when adjusted for inflation.
The better-than-expected performance of the film — starring Rami Malek as legendary frontman Freddie Mercury — is a fitting swan song for 20th Century Fox as it releases the final titles on its slate before disappearing as a standalone major Hollywood studio and being absorbed by new owner Disney. New Regency co-financed the $52 million biopic, with Graham King producing. Fox was in sore need of a high-profiile release; Bohemian Rhapsody is its biggest opening outside of Deadpool 2 in more than a year.
As fate would have it, Disney suffered a major miss over the weekend as the big-budget The Nutcracker and the Four Realms bombed with $20 million in the U.S. after costing $125 million to produce. It is Disney’s lowest nationwide debut in more than two years, excluding nature docs. Disney, which commands more than 30 percent of 2018 marketshare, can certainly weather the loss, and will finish the year with high-profile pics Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns.
Nutcracker placed No. 2, followed by Tyler Perry’s Nobody’s Fool, starring Tiffany Haddish. From Paramount, Perry’s first R-rated comedy turned in $13.5 million-$14 million, one of the lowest openings of his prolific career.
Both Nutcracker and Nobody’s Fool drew withering reviews, or a 34 percent and 25 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively. Bohemian Rhapsody certainly wasn’t entirely embraced by critics, but it managed to easily rock past its so-so Rotten Tomatoes score of 60 percent and become a crowd-pleaser.
Bohemian Rhapsody, chronicling the rise of the iconic British rock band Queen, is the latest music-infused pic to prosper. It came in ahead of the recent $42.9 million domestic debut of A Star Is Born, which has earned north of $165 million domestically to date.
The film also survived plenty of drama during its journey to the big screen. Toward the end of production, helmer Bryan Singer was fired. Singer, who retains sole directing credit, was replaced by Dexter Fletcher. Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech and Mike Myers co-star.
Disney’s family-friendly, Christmas-themed Nutcracker, an adaptation of the iconic ballet and short story about a girl whose nutcracker doll comes to life, also suffered a troubled production.
Lasse Hallstrom directed Nutcracker, although Joe Johnston was brought aboard to oversee major reshoots late last year (Johnston shares a directing credit). Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfayden, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren star. American Ballet Theater ballerina Misty Copeland makes her big-screen debut.
Nutcracker fared better overseas, earning $38.5 million from its first 45 markets for a global start of $58.5 million.
From Paramount, Nobody’s Fool stars Tiffany Haddish as a recent parolee who tries to help her sister seek revenge on the man who bilked her. Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Mehcad Brooks, Amber Riley and Whoopi Goldberg co-star in Perry’s film.
Holdovers A Star Is Born, from Warner Bros., and Halloween rounded out the top five. Universal and Blumhouse’s Halloween earned $11 million in its third weekend for a sensational domestic total of $150.4 million through Sunday.
At the specialty box office, Focus Features’ awards contender Boy Erased, the gay conversion drama starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, posted the best screen average of the weekend in its debut on five screens, or roughly $44,000.
A Private War, starring Rosamund Pike, opened in opened in four theaters for an estimated screen average of $17,000-$18,000.
Sony Pictures Classics launched documentary Maria by Callas, about famed opera diva Maria Callas, in four U.S. cinemas, reporting a screen average of $12,723.
Bodied, a rap contest comedy produced by Eminem, chose a somewhat larger footprint, or 14 screens. The film, released by Neon, reported a screen average of $3,609.
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