6 Reasons Why a Biographical Movie of a Rock Band is so Successful in 2018
With Bohemian Rhapsody on track to become one of the most successful movies of the year, we want to know what the reason is behind the biopic’s huge box office success. The film smashed expectations in its first weekend, taking $51.1million from only 4000 screens. That makes it the second biggest opening for a biopic in the world, right after 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, a film that documents the rise of Dr. Dre. Since then, Bohemian Rhapsody has become a certified hit, grossing $152 million in North America and $472 million worldwide. It seems like there’s something about movies that tell the stories of our favourite musicians that will guarantee the movie-makers a sure-fire hit the world over. All this in spite of less than glowing reviews from many movie critics, sparking a wider conversation about the death of the critic in this age where everyone is just a few keyboard taps away from submitting their own review.
Here are the reasons that Bohemian Rhapsody is such a box office smash:
1. The Big Budget
Bohemian Rhapsody, which tells the story of some of the greatest rock stars of our time, the band Queen, was made on a rock star budget. Coming in at a whopping $52 million, the movie was guaranteed to draw the crowds as fans know they are in for a stunning feat. In particular, the scenes in which Queen are playing live, with the crowd recreated using state of the art CGI, are epic to watch.
2. The Songs
A huge part of the appeal of going to see a musical biopic is the songs. Fans can’t wait to hear their favourite track and find out how it has been reimagined or portrayed on the big screen. Cinema-goers have been turning on to musical movies over the last few years, with La La Land, The Greatest Showman and A Star Is Born all enjoying box office success.
The catchiness of the songs is another major factor. Though not biopics, Mama Mia and the recent sequel Mama Mia! Here We Go Again did so well because the ABBA songs that feature in the movies are so well known and loved. Indeed, the sequel recently became the 10th highest earning musical movie of all time. Queen have so many huge hits, We Are the Champions, Killer Queen, Another One Bites The Dust, not to mention the track that lends its name to the movie.
As A Star Is Born recently showed, if a movie has a chart-topping soundtrack to accompany it, fans will be more motivated to make that trip to the cinema to enjoy their favourite song.
3. The Fans
The amazing thing about biopics is that they already have a ready-made fan base who will need little convincing to see the movie. Queen are one of the world’s best selling musical artists, with estimates for their record sales ranging from 150 million to 300 million. That’s a lot of fans who will want to check out the film.
In this instance, Queen were huge in the 80s, meaning their core fan base are probably now in their 40s and 50s. This demographic in particular will have a fair amount of disposable income and are likely to want to spend an evening at the cinema as opposed to in a club or at a bar. Indeed, 78% of first weekend audiences were aged over 25, nostalgia is clearly a strong emotion.
4. The Story
Freddie Mercury and his bandmates were internationally acclaimed and adored, and fans followed the minutiae of their daily lives with interest. As Freddie experimented with his sexuality, partied and eventually became ill, the British press was right behind him, reporting every detail to their hungry readers. Many people who remember that time will be interested to see Freddie’s life portrayed in the movie, given the salacious nature with which it was covered in the newspapers. The 2007 Joy Division biopic, Control, which documented the life of lead singer Ian Curtis enjoyed success as fans watched in order to learn more about their hero.
What’s more, this is possibly the biggest movie about a member of the LGBTQ community ever, which holds massive appeal to many fans who want to witness and celebrate this moment in cinema history. Next year sees the biopic of another LGBTQ superstar, Elton John. Given the success of Bohemian Rhapsody, the studio must prepare for another huge hit.
5. The Controversy
Many have reported on the various controversies surrounding Bohemian Rhapsody. The main gripe being the way in which the movie handles Freddie’s life, glossing over and rearranging events for the good of the plot. Fans are upset that the movie portrays Freddie as having quit the band to launch a solo career in a fit of selfishness and obsession with fame, when the truth is that the band never split. And LGBTQ rights activists are disappointed with the movie’s portrayal of Freddie’s bisexuality and perceived promiscuity.
Add to that the fact that Bryan Singer, the director, was fired halfway through for failing to turn up on set. Citing the illness of a parent, Singer was not permitted to return. The studio replaced him with Dexter Fletcher. Meanwhile, Singer became caught up in accusations of sexual abuse. All told, the movie had made headlines multiple times before it had even been released. This added anticipation and raised awareness of the movie amongst the viewing public.
6. The Award Potential
With award season only a few months away, talk naturally begins about which actors are being tipped for the coveted gongs on the big night. The star of this biopic, who had the honour of playing Freddie Mercury, is rising star Rami Malek. He is perhaps the only part of the movie that the critics and the fans agree on, with universal calls for him to receive the best actor award for his portrayal of the iconic star. He spent a lot of time honing Freddie’s mannerisms, and the sections of live performance are breathtaking.