Sunday June 02, 2019
Box Office: ‘Godzilla’ Doesn't Roar, ‘Rocketman’ Doesn't Soar
I remember being surprised when Elton John's Princess Di tribute “Candle in the Wind 1997,” which riffed off his Marilyn Monroe tribute 25 years earlier, became the biggest chart single in music history—selling 33 million copies.
I remember being surprised when “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a kind of blah biopic of Freddie Mercury and Queen, grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide at the end of last year—up there with superheroes and animated ice queens.
So, surely, I thought, “Rocketman,” a biopic of Elton John, who always sold way more records than Queen ever did, will do great business this spring.
Nope. Surprised again. I guess I just don't know you people.
“Rocketman” opened in the U.S. on Friday and over the weekend came in third, grossing $25 million in 3,610 theaters—about half of what “Bohemian” grossed during its opening weekend in 4,000 theaters last November. Domestically, “Bohemian” wound up grossing $216, so slightly more than four times its opening numbers, which ain't bad. If Elton does the same it‘ll break $100 million. But it’ll be a slog.
Of course “Bohemian”'s true power was overseas, so how is “Rocketman” doing there? Ehh. $31 million so far. But I don't know in which countries it's opened and when. Box Office Mojo doesn't have those details yet. Odd, since overseas is where the action is.
So what to make of all this? Is it that Freddie's popularity has eclipsed Elton's worldwide? Is it that “Rocketman” is “gayer” than “Bohemian” and turned off some homophobic people/countries? Is it that “Bohemian” opened in the fall, when the light is dying and we‘re ready for more serious fare, rather than the first days of June, when everything’s light, including our step and taste in movies? Is it that “Bohemian” has an ending while “Rocketman” really doesn‘t? Yet?
That actually gets to the bigger point: Is it necrophilia? That explains all of my above surprises. “Candle in the Wind 1997” sells because of Diana’s death, “Bohemian” sells because of Freddie's death, “Rocketman” doesn't because Elton John is still standing.
Anyway, something to keep watching.
No. 1 at the box office was “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” grossing $49 million. Box Office Mojo lists it as part of the “Monsterverse” series, Warner Bros. attempt to create an MCU or DCEU but with monsters, but I thought that was one and done. Oh wait, I'm thinking Universal's “Dark Universe”: Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, etc., but in 2017 “The Mummy” killed all that. Hard to keep up. Warner's is just giant creatures. I guess it's leading to “Godzilla vs. Kong” next year but interest is apparently waning in the U.S. Openers:
- 2014: “Godzilla”: $93/$200
- 2017: “Kong: Skull Island”: $61/$168
- 2019: “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”: $49/??
Worldwide, “Kong” did about the same as “Godzilla” ($566/$529), so will be interesting to see how things go. But nobody is handling this as well as Marvel did.
Second place for the weekend was the second weekend of live-action “Aladdin,” which has grossed $185 here, $445 worldwide. Fourth was the scary Octavia Spencer movie “Ma,” which earned $18.
In sixth place, “Avengers: Endgame” grossed another $7 domestically. It's now at $815, second all-time, of course. Early on, it seemed it would vault over “Avatar”'s worldwide mark of $2.7 billion with ease, but now it's crawling there. It's finally reached $2.7 but it's still about $60 million behind. Seems only a matter of time, though. No way Disney's not going to claim that crown from Fox. Get down to it, those are the true monsterverses.