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411 Box Office Report: Bohemian Rhapsody Nails $50 Million Start For #1

November 4, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Bohemian Rhapsody Rami Malek

Queen reigned supreme at the box office this weekend, as Bohemian Rhapsody scored an excellent $50 million opening to best the competition. The Freddy Mercury biopic soared past the $35 million to $40 million predictions that most box office analysts expected to easily claim the top spot. The Rami Malek-starring film has the second-best music biopic opening of all-time, behind only Straight Outta Compton’s $60.2 million launch in August of 2015.

The big opening is a major victory for Fox on a film that came into its premiere with a host of bad buzz. The film’s lengthy development process was plagued with starts and stops, including director and star changes. It didn’t get better during production, with director Bryan Singer being famously fired late last year and replaced by Dexter Fletcher after Singer took a hiatus. That switch was compounded when new sexual assault allegations surfaced against Singer in December.

None of that hurt the film’s opening, nor did average reviews. The film currently has a 60% consensus score on Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviews praising Malek but criticizing the script. But the name value of Queen and the effective marketing campaign proved strong enough to overcome any potential issues, and excellent word of mouth kept it strong throughout the weekend. Rhapsody has an A CinemaScore, which should help this one maintain decent holds as it pushes through toward Thanksgiving.

All of this adds up to big money for Fox on the $52 million-budgeted film, which is also scoring big overseas. Thus far the film has $91.7 million internationally for a worldwide take of $141.7 million. Domestically, it seems likely to at least get to $160 million and could go higher if the positive audience reaction sustains it. Bottom line: it’s the second film in two months (alongside Venom) to overcome negative pre-release buzz to become a hit.

In less positive news, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms was DOA with a $20 million start. That’s an ugly opening for an effects-laden film that cost $120 million to produce (plus marketing). Disney had big plans for this one, but they never coalesced, and the poor critical reaction (34% on RT) didn’t help.

There’s no positive way for Disney to spin this one, really. One questions why the film was released weeks before the holiday season kicks off when it would have been perfectly-themed to play into that. The studio seemed to expect that it would provide a niche for families that would sustain it for a long haul before Thanksgiving and then through to Christmas, but no dice. Audience reaction was good with a B+ CinemaScore, but even good holds won’t save this one when the domestic start is this low. And don’t expect overseas to save it either. Despite opening in 72% of its markets, the film was only able to scrape up another $38.5 million for a $58.5 million worldwide total. Domestically, it will finish off at around $65 million to 75 million and will be a money loser for the studio.

Tyler Perry’s Nobody’s Fool opened at #3 with $14 million. While that’s not a bad start for an inexpensive comedy, it is the worst opening for Perry since 2014’s The Single Moms Club tallied $8.1 million in about 550 less theaters. This is a typical Perry production in terms of openings: poor reviews (25% on RT) balanced by good word of mouth (A- CinemaScore).

Fool’s biggest problem was in marketing…as in, there wasn’t all that much. But that should also help Paramount out in terms of aiming for a profit margin. The movie cost $19 million to make, which is low. But Perry’s films have notoriously low multiples, particularly if they aren’t Medea films. Nobody’s Fool should gross somewhere around $35 million domestically and won’t do much overseas (it has $265,000 internationally in a couple of markets thus far), meaning Paramount will have trouble finding black ink out of this one.

A Star Is Born came in at #4 for the weekend with another great hold, down 20% to $11.1 million. The Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga drama didn’t take any hit from Rhapsody and thus managed to push its totals to $165.6 million domestically and $293.4 million worldwide. This one looks like it may be able to stay viable up to awards season and is still aiming for a final US tally around $200 million or more. The budget was just $36 million.

Halloween fell hard after a decent hold last weekend, off 65% to $11 million. The horror revival isn’t hurting too badly, though. At this point it has brought in $150.4 million domestically and $229.6 million worldwide from a budget of just $10 million. It may well fall short of $200 million, but $180 million should still be very achievable for the final domestic tally.

Venom brought in $7.9 million in its fifth weekend, down a mere 26%. The super-antihero film has $196.73 million domestically and $541.6 million worldwide on a $100 million budget. It should be able to end its run in the $220 million range and, of course, is a hit for its studio.

Smallfoot eased 20% in its sixth weekend to ring up $3.8 million. The animated family comedy stands at $77.5 million domestically and $192.7 million worldwide, making it a bit of a sleeper hit at this point. It should end at around $85 million domestically from a budget of $80 million.

Goosebumps: Haunted Halloween fell 49% for the weekend to bring in $3.7 million. The supernatural family film is now up to $43.8 million domestically and $82.4 million worldwide, which means it’s likely to be a very minor money maker for Sony. The budget was $35 million, and it should finish off at around $50 million or so in the US.

Hunter Killer followed up its low start last weekend with a mediocre hold. The action-thriller brought in $3.5 million, down 47% from last weekend. That’s not the hold that Lionsgate was hoping for, considering the anemic opening and the $40 million budget. The Gerard Butler-starring film is now at $13 million and won’t be likely to top $22 million domestically.

The Hate You Give was down 33% in its third weekend of wide release with $3.4 million. The drama brought its totals to $23.5 million domestically and $25.6 million worldwide on a $23 million budget. It should be able to make it to around $35 million in the US.

The holidays come early at the box office next weekend, as Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch will easily take the #1 spot. The animated update of the holiday classic aiming for a $65 million to $70 million opening. Also starting off are The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which is targeting about $10 million to $15 million, and action-horror flick Overlord which should open in the high single digits.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Bohemian Rhapsody – $50 million ($50 million total)
2. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – $20 million ($20 million total)
3. Nobody’s Fool – $14 million ($14 million total)
4. A Star Is Born – $11.1 million ($165.6 million total)
5. Halloween – $11 million ($150.4 million total)
6. Venom – $7.9 million ($196.7 million total)
7. Smallfoot – $3.8 million ($77.5 million total)
8. Goosebumps: Haunted Halloween – $3.7 million ($43.8 million total)
9. Hunter Killer – $3.5 million ($13 million total)
10. The Hate U Give – $3.4 million ($23.5 million total)