The unexpected achievements of the film, Bohemian Rhapsody, are a matter of record: It's the most successful music biopic ever at the box office, having taken nearly $1 billion worldwide; it won four Oscars, including Rami Malek’s Best Actor statue for his portrayal of
- Inevitably, it will be compared to Bohemian Rhapsody– both stories are about flamboyant gay British singers who found their fame in the ’70s.
- Both lead roles are played by rising-star actors: Malek as Mercury and Taron Egerton as John.
- Both productions even faced challenges with the lead actor’s teeth: Malek ended up using a false set of choppers & Egerton ended up using his own teeth while painting in the gap
Even with those similarities, many eyes will focus directly on the dollars and cents, and the minds behind those eyes will ask: “How much will Rocketman make?”
Egerton was recently asked the same question. “I'm at peace with however much money it makes," he told theHollywood Reporter. "But I hope it does really, really well. If it made half of [Bohemian Rhapsody], it would be terrific for my career."
Sadly for Egerton, there are several reasons why that’s unlikely. While both movies had a relatively similar budget (just more than $50 million for Bohemian Rhapsody, a little more than $40 million for Rocketman), they’re not starting from anything like the same position.
The biggest hurdle for the John story is its R rating, imposed as a result of several creative decisions including a gay sex scene. The of all time is 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, which took $612 million at the box office globally – which is indeed more than half of the PG-13-rated Bohemian Rhapsody’s $903 million.
Yet even in the era of superhero blockbusters, 2016’s could manage only $783 million with its R rating, and its sequel made $785 million.
Ane then there’s the fact that Mercury has been dead since 1991. The death of a popular icon often elevates them to a form of sainthood, meaning that a biopic can become something of a hagiography. With John still among the living, never having stopped making music and currently touring the world on his farewell road trip, it could be argued that his true value hasn’t yet been realized among the general public – and it’s the general public, not die-hard fans, who will push movie ticket sales up.