Why Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman’ doesn’t need to be a blockbuster like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to be a win for Paramount

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“Rocketman”
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Paramount

  • Paramount Pictures’ Elton John biopic, “Rocketman,” opened over the weekend with $25 million, below the $51 million that the Queen movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” made in its debut.
  • But comparisons between the two movies aren’t fair, according to Boxoffice.com media and entertainment analyst Daniel Loria.
  • “It’s easier to sustain drawing power – and screens – in November and December than in June, not to mention the awards campaign that helped boost Fox’s film,” Loria said.
  • Loria said that “Rocketman” is a step in the right direction for Paramount, which has suffered great losses in recent years.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Paramount Pictures’ Elton John biopic, “Rocketman,” hit theaters over the weekend with $25 million at the domestic box office. In the aftermath of the global success of the Queen movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it’s inevitable for comparisons to be made.

But those comparisons aren’t exactly fair, according to Boxoffice.com media and entertainment analyst Daniel Loria.

“It’s easier to sustain drawing power – and screens – in November [when ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was released] and December than in June, not to mention the awards campaign that helped boost Fox’s film,” Loria told Business Insider.

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“Bohemian Rhapsody” opened with double what “Rocketman” did at $51 million. It was ultimately one of the biggest movies of 2018 with $903 million worldwide, and had strong legs domestically over the holiday and Oscar seasons (it was nominated for best picture and won four other awards).

“Rocketman,” meanwhile, opens during a competitive summer where it faces Disney remakes, superheroes, and giant monsters.

But Loria said he isn’t concerned with “Rocketman’s” subpar opening. Whether it’s a success or not doesn’t come down to whether it’s a blockbuster like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but whether it has staying power throughout the summer.

“If word of mouth can carry it through, it should float on and continue earning in subsequent weekends,” Loria said.

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“Bohemian Rhapsody”
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Fox

“Rocketman” was made for $40 million (“Bohemian Rhapsody” was made for a bit more at $52 million). Fortunately for Paramount, it’s already made $57 million worldwide.

The studio suffered nearly $900 million in losses from 2016 to 2018, according to The New York Times, and has finished behind the other major studios at the box office for the last seven years. The last time Paramount enjoyed a great year was in 2011 when it finished first, topping Warner Bros., Sony, Disney, Universal, and Fox.

But “Rocketman” is a step in the right direction, according to Loria.

“It is already a solid example of a turnaround at Paramount,” he said. “The studio has been slowly recovering after some tough years in recent memory. Whether it becomes a global blockbuster or not, it’s certainly a step in the right direction as Paramount shows it can deliver appealing titles outside of Nickelodeon and Hasbro properties.”

The studio’s slate of upcoming movies has potential.

“Crawl” is a low-budget horror movie coming to theaters in July, about a woman fighting against alligators while trying to save her father from a flooded house during a devastating hurricane. It was made for $17 million, and Boxoffice.com projected it to make $18 million in its opening weekend in its long-range tracking of the movie last month.

After that, movies like “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”; Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man,” starring Will Smith; and “Terminator: Dark Fate” will attempt to pull Paramount out of its years-long slump.