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Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody sang loudly at the Friday box office with $18.4 million from 4,000 theaters for a rhapsodic $43 million-$45 million debut in North America, one of the best showings of all time for the genre and well ahead of expectations.
That’s easily enough to win the weekend ahead of fellow new offerings The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and Tyler Perry’s first R-rated comedy, Nobody’s Fool. It also would be ahead of the recent opening of the music-infused, box-office hit A Star Is Born, which earned $15.7 million on its first Friday for a $42.9 million debut. (That film opened opposite Venom.)
To date, the top domestic opening for a music biopic belongs to the 2015’s Straight Outta Compton ($60.2 million). Bohemian Rhapsody would mark the second biggest after that, even when adjusted for inflation.
Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek as legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, is a victory for 20th Century Fox as it prepares to disappear as a stand-alone Hollywood studio and be absorbed by Disney. While critics haven’t embraced the film, audiences graced it with an A CinemaScore. Graham King produced the long-in-the-making film, with New Regency co-financing.
Friday’s gross includes $3.9 million in Thursday-night previews.
The $52 million Bohemian Rhapsody, chronicling the rise of the iconic British rock band Queen, had 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 in Bohemian Rhapsody, which launched to a huge $12.5 million in the U.K. last weekend to mark one of the biggest openings of the year in England, as well as one of the top showings in recent memory for a non-franchise title. The biopic drew all age groups, boding well for its North American run.
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, will take second place with a projected $18 million-$20 million in a miss for Disney. The big-budget pic grossed $5.6 million on Friday from 3,766 locations. It cost at least $125 million to produce.
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 Macfadyen, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren star. American Ballet Theater ballerina Misty Copeland makes her big-screen debut in the movie, which earned a B+ CinemaScore.
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. The comedy, nabbing an A- CinemaScore, earned an estimated $4.8 million from 2,468 theaters on Friday for a projected $12 million-$13 million debut.
Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Mehcad Brooks, Amber Riley and Whoopi Goldberg co-star in Perry’s film.
Nutcracker and Nobody’s Fool — both of which are opening on the low end of expectations — are battling particularly bad reviews. They currently sport a 35 percent and 25 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively. Bohemian Rhapsody fares better with 59 percent.
At the specialty box office, Focus Features’ awards contender Boy Erased, the gay conversion drama starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, looks to post the best per-screen average of the weekend upon debuting in five cinemas, or $40,000-$44,000.
A full report on weekend films to follow on Sunday.
Nov. 3, 7:30 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.
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