Reviews for the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody weren’t exactly stellar (60 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and I think most fans of Queen were probably hoping for a more faithful biopic (or at least one that wasn’t so tilted by the input of the surviving members of the band). As biopics go, it was fairly paint-by-numbers, and there were a few scenes in which it was clear that guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor were trying to make themselves look better to the detriment of Freddie Mercury. With all that said, however, most fans were able to dismiss those concerns (and those surrounding director Bryan Singer, who was fired from the film) and appreciate Bohemian Rhapsody for what it is: Two hours and twenty minutes of Queen songs and a stellar, magnetic performance from Rami Malek.
Sure, it could have been much better, but it’s impossible to argue with the film’s rousing, crowd-pleasing abilities (it scored an A Cinemascore), which translated into a very impressive $50 million opening, considerably better than expectations. In fact, with $13 million from its U.K. opening last weekend, the film has already earned back its $55 million budget, and whatever criticisms viewers have with the film or controversies that have erupted around it, it’ll be mostly forgotten in the wake of its stellar box-office performance. In fact, this movie very well could be the 2018 version of The Greatest Showman, a crowd-pleaser dismissed by critics that nevertheless becomes a monster sleeper hit on the basis of enthusiastic crowds and incredible songs. As a critic, I wanted more from Bohemian Rhapsody. As a moviegoer, I was too caught up in the music of Queen to let the film’s deficits ruin a good time at the multiplex. A potential Oscar nomination for Rami Malek could also keep Bohemian Rhapsody in theaters for weeks, even during the crowded holiday season.
Things didn’t go as well for Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which is quickly turning into Disney’s third box-office bomb of the year after Solo: A Star Wars Story and A Wrinkle in Time (although, with the success of Avengers and Black Panther, among others, no one needs to feel sorry for Disney). Nutcracker, a $120 million family film, is coming in at a relatively dismal $20 million. Critics weren’t fans (35 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), although moviegoers didn’t hate it (a B+ Cinemascore).