As the final days of 20th Century Fox’s status as a standalone studio countdown and the merger with Disney draws near, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has provided Fox with a much needed hit.
Despite mixed reviews, the Queen biopic from New Regency is on its way to being a hit with a $51.1 million opening and $141 million grossed worldwide. Fox reports that it ranks among the studio’s top 10 highest openings for a non-franchise film, and it’s the biggest opening weekend for the studio since the release of “Deadpool 2” nearly six months ago.
“Deadpool 2” was able to capitalize off of the rabid demand for superheroes — and especially Marvel superheroes — to the tune of $318 million at the domestic box office. But prior to this weekend, that total accounted for 38 percent of Fox’s entire domestic gross for the year. Add the $205 million made by Fox’s hit holiday films “The Greatest Showman” and “The Post” in January, and you have three films accounting for 63 percent of Fox’s $831 million domestic total.
Aside from those films, success has been scarce for Fox this year. Socially minded, low-budget films like “The Hate U Give” and “Love Simon” have made modest profits, but Fox has also had some big misfires, like the $88 million “The Predator,” which has only grossed $159 million, and the $32 million “Bad Times at the El Royale,” which hasn’t even made back its budget with $27 million grossed. Another domestic disappointment for the studio was the $62 million “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” which only grossed $58 million in North America and needed a $230 million overseas haul to find a profit.
Fox has passed $1 billion domestically for 11 of the past 12 years, only barely missing in 2011 with $977 million and peaking in 2014 with $1.79 billion, best among all studios. But with “Bohemian Rhapsody” being the last major release for Fox this year, the studio could fall short of that mark as it currently ranks fifth among all studios on the domestic charts, with Sony overtaking them for fourth.
But the good news is that “Bohemian Rhapsody” will stand out this November, as the rest of this month’s release calendar is largely highlighted by family offerings like “The Grinch” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution president, said that he expects the word of mouth from Queen fans who saw the film this weekend and the awards buzz surrounding leading man Rami Malek to give the film plenty of mileage in the weeks ahead.
“We finally settled on an early November release because we wanted to give the film some space from ‘A Star Is Born,'” Aronson told TheWrap. “But when we saw the final cut we knew that like ‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was going to offer audiences a musical experience that no other film that’s coming after us is going to have.”
Fox will close out the year with a yet-to-be-announced “Deadpool” release at Christmastime, ending what has been a rocky final chapter for one of Hollywood’s biggest mainstays. But Aronson says that “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been a proud accomplishment for him and his colleagues, as the film has navigated a turbulent development to join “Straight Outta Compton” as one of the biggest openings ever for a musical biopic.
“No matter what, this is a big win for us and a validation for the process that we went through releasing this film,” he said. “And I want to give extra kudos to the film’s producer, Graham King, who dedicated himself for years to getting this film out, and now all his hard work has really paid off.”