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“Bohemian Rhapsody” is now the highest-grossing music biopic of all time

Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez

Reporter

Bohemian Rhapsody has as big a range as Freddie Mercury’s vocals.

The biographical film about the British rock band Queen, released on Nov. 2 in the US, is now the highest-grossing music biopic of all time in North America, and worldwide, Deadline first reported. After six weeks in theaters, the movie grossed $176 million domestically in the US and Canada as of Dec. 13, against a $50 million production budget. It pulled ahead of the 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton, which chronicled the rise of the US rap group N.W.A, based on data from Box Office Mojo, which classified more than 50 films released from 1978 through 2018 as music biographies.

Bohemian Rhapsody has also been a booming success internationally. The film has earned more $400 million overseas, or 70% of its total $600 million box-office take, from markets like the UK—Queen’s home—South Korea, and Japan.

Actor Rami Malek has been praised for his portrayal of Mercury, the exuberant 1970s rock idol Bohemian Rhapsody follows, who died in 1991 from AIDS at the age of 45. But the movie itself has been criticized for not diving deeply enough into band’s history and Mercury’s own past. The 20th Century Fox picture, directed by Bryan Singer, earned positive reviews from just 62% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes, though it was liked by 91% of audience members who reviewed it.

The film’s production was also troubled, which makes this milestone all the more impressive. Sacha Baron Cohen was originally tapped to play Mercury, but dropped out of the picture in 2013 over creative differences. The production spent a few years in limbo before Malek landed the lead. Then, during filming, Singer was booted from the movie because of his behavior toward the cast and crew. Actor and director Dexter Fletcher stepped in to finish it.

Queen, which stopped releasing new music in the 1990s, following Mercury’s death, is still popular today. The group’s 1975 hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” from which the biopic draws its title, re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 last month after the movie reached theaters. Other classics from the band, including “Under Pressure,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and “We Are the Champions,” are also ingrained in pop culture—and excellent karaoke picks.

Adjusted for 2018 ticket-price inflationBohemian Rhapsody is still trailing the 1980 Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter, which grossed $67 million in its day, a sum that would be worth $228 million in 2018’s ticket prices, Box Office Mojo estimated.

But Bohemian Rhapsody’s run isn’t done. The film also recently received Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, and is a contender for an Oscar nomination.

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