'Bohemian Rhapsody' likely to become the biggest music biopic ever

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Rami Malek in Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (Credit: Fox)

Lukewarm reviews didn’t stop cinema-goers heading to screens in droves to see Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody on its opening weekend.

The movie made a huge $50 million on its opening weekend in the US, and over $91 million abroad, bringing in a grand total of $141,703,510.

Quite apart from it making its production budget back almost three times over – it cost just over $50 million to make – it puts it in line for some potential box office records.

Prior to Bohemian Rhapsody’s release, the biggest ever music biopic movie was F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton, about rap legends NWA, which made $201 million in all, in 2015.

Before that, it was the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Johnny Cash movie Walk The Line, which made $186 million in 2004.

Even adjusting for inflation, Bohemian Rhapsody, currently already the eighth biggest music biopic ever, would have to hit a sturdy drop off not to hit number one.

The Oscar-winning Amadeus would have made £123 million in today’s money, while The Coal Miner’s Daughter, which found Sissy Spacek as country singer Loretta Lynn, would have made $167 million.

Despite its prowess at the box office, the movie has been panned by many critics.

(Credit: Fox)

Though Mr Robot star Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury has been applauded, most have deemed it a run-of-the-mill biopic, and something of a missed opportunity to explore the Queen’s frontman’s legendary hellraising.

Some have pointed to the turbulence behind the scenes, with Fox ultimately firing original director Bryan Singer – who retains his directing credit – and Dexter Fletcher being drafted in to finish things up.

Director Stephen Frears, who was at one time attached to the movie, recently revealed that Sacha Baron Cohen was geared up to make an ‘outrageous’ R-rated take on the band, focussing on Mercury’s excesses, before he fell out with band-members Brian May and Roger Taylor.

“Sacha wanted to make a very outrageous film, which I would imagine Freddie Mercury would have approved of,” Frears told Vulture.

“Outrageous in terms of his homosexuality and outrageous in terms of endless naked scenes. Sacha loved all of that.

“You could always tell there would be trouble with the rest of the band. Because [Sacha] was so outrageous and they weren’t. They were much more conventional.”

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