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Sometime Monday or Tuesday, the Queen biopic — one of the final films released by 20th Century Fox as a stand-alone Hollywood studio — will sing past a stunning $800 million after finishing Sunday with $798 million in global ticket sales. That includes $201 million in North America and $596 million overseas, where the movie is the fifth top-grossing release of all time for Fox, home of Avatar and earlier Star Wars films.
The film’s performance is a testament to the enduring popularity of the iconic 1970s and 1980s rock band everywhere. BoRhap, as it’s affectionately referred to, has rocked to $88.6 million in Japan to date, the top showing of any 2018 release. South Korea has generated $76 million, followed by the U.K. — home of Queen — with $66.3 million.
The $52 million pic is the rare mid-range drama that is doing the kind of business generally reserved for Hollywood tentpoles, animated fare and James Bond installments. (As a way of comparison, Sony’s Venom has earned $855.8 million to date, while 2017’s Wonder Woman topped out at $822 million.)
If BoRhap nabs a best picture or best actor Oscar nomination on Tuesday after winning at the Golden Globes earlier this month for best drama and best actor in a drama, it could end up taking in $830 million or more by the end of its run.
Fox finally gave the green light to Bohemian Rhapsody based on the assumption it would likely earn no more than $250 million to $300 million globally. “When we went into production, we would have been doing cartwheels had anyone said we could even do $400 million,” says Fox domestic distribution president Chris Aronson.
Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) as legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, opened to $51 million over the Nov. 2-4 weekend amid a cloud of uncertainty and so-so reviews.
Producer Graham King — whose past credits include the Oscar-winning The Departed — fought for years to make the biopic, enlisting the aid of remaining Queen bandmembers and Arnon Milchan’s New Regency. Bryan Singer was brought aboard to direct, but was fired weeks before production wrapped.
Audiences embraced BoRhap, giving it an A CinemaScore. The music-infused film remained a box office force throughout the year-end holidays, quickly surpassing the global lifetime gross of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton ($201.6 million), the previous champ for a music biopic, not adjusted for inflation.
Overseas, Bohemian Rhapsody performed in perfect harmony across Europe. It has earned $36.2 million in France, $29.8 million in Germany and $30.5 million in Italy, which was among the 13 countries where the movie was the top-grossing release of 2018.
In Australia, BoRhap has grossed $35 million to date.
The pic’s exceptional run in Japan and South Korea has been buoyed by special sing-along showings. Fox international distribution chief Andrew Cripps says the response on social media to these special screenings has been a factor in strong repeat business.
“What Graham [King] has achieved is nothing short of a miracle, between keeping the project alive for 10 years, keeping the band in the fold, firing the director and getting through post without a director,” says Aronson.
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