“Bohemian Rhapsody,” the movie about the rock band Queen and their legendary frontman Freddie Mercury, became a mega hit in 2018. Can “Rocketman” even begin to compete with Elton John?
Before 2018, biographical films about bands or musicians weren’t exactly box office magnets. The most successful hitherto was “Straight Outta Compton” through hip-hop combo NWA, which grossed nearly $ 200 million worldwide in 2015. Johnny Cash’s biopic “Walk The Line” followed in second place. with 186 million dollars.
But like I said: That was before 2018. Because then came “Bohemian Rhapsody” – and it hit one like a bomb! Queen and Freddie Mercury movie grossed $ 900 million on Studio Fox And suddenly, film biographies of musicians are back in fashion. The next one begins with “Rocketman” and Paramount naturally hopes that the Elton John movie will be as successful as “Bohemian Rhapsody” Fox. But is that even realistic?
If you only look at the people portrayed in both films, you might think that “Rocketman” will be able to cope with the success of Queen: Both films focus on gay British rock singers who celebrated their biggest hits in the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, both Queen and Elton John are among the most successful artists of all time – with an estimated 250 to 300 million albums sold, Elton John is even ahead of the game (Queen: roughly 150 to 200 million).
Problematic age classification
But the two films are fundamentally different. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was cut very well, sexual and drug adventures were only briefly mentioned. Not in vain it was released in this country from the age of six. With “Rocketman” it looks completely different: also at the request of Elton John himself He did not spare director Dexter Fletcher (who by the way also completed “BoRap” for the fired Bryan Singer) with sex, alcohol, drugs and swearing, which is why he received the dreaded R-Rating (aged 17) in the United States. In this country, viewers over the age of twelve can see it.
And that alone should ensure that “Rocketman” doesn’t even come close to the financial success of “Bohemian Rhapsody”: The most successful movie ever released in the United States with an R rating is “Deadpool 2” (785 million worldwide). And at least it leans on the current mega hype about superhero movies (check out the success of “Avengers: Endgame”).
Less accessible than “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Another reason “Rocketman” won’t have as big a hit as “BoRap” is the way the movie is made. In contrast to the Queen biopic, which is a straightforwardly narrated “movie for everyone,” “Rocketman” is an imaginative musical. There are sprawling dance and song scenes rather than sober concert performances. Some will like it for that very reason, but it can make it less accessible to the general public. For this and the aforementioned age classification reason It’s hard to imagine “Rocketman” like “Bohemian Rhapsody” drawing people to the movies for months, recommending it to all friends without reservation and becoming a movie event for the whole family.
That’s what those involved say
If you listen to what those involved have to say about Rocketman’s leadership, it clearly shows that financial success was definitely not his top priority. So was heard from Elton John himself (via The New York Times): “Even if the movie doesn’t make a dime at the box office […] that’s exactly the movie I wanted to make. “ And director Dexter Fletcher also emphasized that he wanted to make this movie when he discussed a phone call with Universal boss Donna Langley about financing the movie: “You definitely want to make an R-rated movie for $ 35 million.”She asked him. Like a Fletcher then with a certain “Yes” replied, it would be just one of her “Good luck” wine.
Lead actor Taron Egerton is a bit more precise. “I am satisfied, no matter how much I earn”he affirmed The Hollywood Reporter, “But I hope it is very, very successful. If it only makes half the sales for Bohemian Rhapsody, that would be great for my career.“ That wish would be achieved with just under $ 450 million, is that possible?
What’s the box office result for “Rocketman”?
It’s not easy to predict how well “Rocketman” will work. What speaks for him, however, are the good reviews: At the world premiere in Cannes, it was celebrated with a standing ovation, 89 percent of all reviews are currently positive on Rotten Tomatoes and on Metacritic it scores 73 (As of May 29, 2019). By way of comparison: “Bohemian Rhapsody” achieved 61 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a highly mixed meta-score of 49.
Box office expert Doug Creutz assumes that “Rocketman” will be one of the twelve most successful films of the summer because it is a “It has a relatively solid rumor” and the one “Contrasting program with the wide range of films aimed at a younger audience” represents (through The New York Times). Expect sales of just under $ 120 million in the United States alone.
That would be a little more than half of what “Bohemian Rhapsody” grossed in the United States (216 million). The Queen biopic took most of its profits from the rest of the world, and that’s what “Rocketman” can be expected to do. After all, like Queen, Elton John is not an American, but a global phenomenon. And since the age rating is not as strict in most European countries as it is in the US, the target audience there is broader as well.
Overall, “Rocketman” will definitely not bring in the $ 900 million “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The 450 million Taron Egerton expected are theoretically possible – at least when things are going really well. But even if it’s only half of the half, the Elton John biopic, produced on a budget of just under $ 35 to $ 40 million, would still be a huge success.
In this country, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the most successful movie of all time.
In this country, you can see “Rocketman”, in addition to Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, known as Robb Stark from “Game Of Thrones”, Bryce Dallas Howard (“Jurassic World”) and Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliott”), in the cinema since May 30, 2019.