The power of Freddie Mercury endures 27 years after his death. His biopic, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, directed (mostly) by Bryan Singer and starring Rami Malek as the iconic rock vocalist, bulldozed expectations, landing with a Queen-sized $50 million opening in the US. Despite behind-the-scenes clashes, 20th Century Fox was apparently so floored when they were presented with an early cut of the film, that they pushed it up from its original Christmas opening date. They had so much confidence in this picture’s appeal that they felt it didn’t need the added crutch of the holiday. Audiences love it! It has an A CinemaScore and four and a half stars via PostTrak. The budget of this film was $55M and it earned $12M last weekend when it opened in Great Britain, so it’s already in the black. Critics kind of hate it, though. It has a rotten 59% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.
Director Bryan Singer has been among the powerful Hollywood men who has been accused of sexual misconduct in the last year, although to date, no charges have been brought against him. On top of that, he was reportedly absent from the set of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ quite a bit, fought furiously with Malek over differences in their takes on Mercury, and was reportedly fired with weeks of filming left. (Executive producer Dexter Fletcher stepped in to complete the film.) Often when a movie is embroiled behind the camera, it shows in the finished product. (‘Justice League’, ‘Suicide Squad’, etc.) That doesn’t appear to be the case here. (It probably helps that the footage Singer didn’t direct were smaller scenes, between Mercury and his first wife, Mary Austin, played by Lucy Boynton.)
While ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ overindexed like crazy, Disney is facing another bomb, ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’. This follows this spring’s big-budget flop ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. It’s unclear if Disney felt this was going to tank ahead of time, but it’s obvious that the studio has been putting the majority of its winter marketing oomph behind ‘Mary Poppins Returns’.
It’s possible that ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ simply came out too early. ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet is a Christmas tradition for thousands (if not millions), but this is just the first weekend of November and Halloween was mere days ago. (And ‘Halloween’ the movie is still in the Top Five.) While it’s a given that Target and Walmart are rolling out their Christmas decor and such, many people just aren’t mentally there yet. But once again, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is Disney’s big Christmas release, so ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ had to be released early enough that it wouldn’t step on its release.
In counter-programming, the Tyler Perry adult female-skewing comedy ‘Nobody’s Fool’ starring Tiffany Haddish and Tika Sumpter opened with $14M, which is low for a Perry flick. The weak open is being blamed on Tiffany Haddish overexposure. ‘Night School’ opened six weeks ago and she also starred in the indie Thanksgiving-themed comedy ‘The Oath’ which opened in limited release in at the end of September.
But Perry’s movies are crowd-pleasers. Those that turned out for ‘Nobody’s Fool’ gave it a great A- CinemaScore. This film’s budget was $19M, and Perry’s movies don’t get released overseas, so it needs to hang in in order to make back its small production and marketing budget.
- Bohemian Rhapsody (20th Century Fox/New Regency/GK Films) – $50M
- Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Disney) – $20M
- Nobody’s Fool (Paramount) – $14M
- A Star Is Born (Warner Brothers) – $11.1M
- Halloween (Universal/Miramax/Blumhouse) – $11M
Well, this weekend, audiences already snubbed the year’s first big Christmas movie. Will they begin to feel a lot more like Christmas next weekend? Universal Pictures hopes so, as it rolls out ‘The Grinch’, an update of the classic Dr. Seuss tale, featuring the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Angela Lansbury, Kenan Thompson and Pharrell Williams.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, MGM is releasing ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story’. As is abundantly clear by the excessively long title, this is a continuation of the gritty ‘Millennium’ mystery series, originated by Stieg Larsson’s novels. British actor Claire Foy takes over as Lisbeth Salander, first played by Noomi Rapace in the Swedish film adaptations, and by Rooney Mara in the American production of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. (Rapace won a BAFTA Award for her portrayal and Mara was nominated for an Academy Award.)
Will a Christmas family movie or a gritty thriller take down this week’s box office Queen? Check back next week to see!