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Will Musical Biopics Become the New Superhero Movies?

Rock stars may be the next major Marvel villains.

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.

In late 2018, the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody hit theaters. The snowballing excitement made it clear that the film would do well, but the exact impact the film would have was harder to anticipate. In its theatrical run, Bohemian Rhapsody made its budget several times over, excelled in Asian theatres, introduced Queen’s music library to a new generation, and collected several film and academy awards.

With any film concept that does well, a new wave of similar films are set to follow in the massive shadow of Bohemian Rhapsody. As of now, Rocketman, the biopic on Elton John (starring Kingsman’s Taron Egerton) is set to release on May 31 of 2019. Although the film was most likely in production long before the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s very apparent that the film will benefit greatly from its success. It also wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that similar films are being proposed and written to cash in on the aftershocks of the Queen biopic. As of March of 2019, a Mötley Crue film is coming to Netflix and a David Bowie biopic in the casting stage.

Music and rock biopics are not a new subgenre, nor are they only now being done well. One only has to look at Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash , and Ray with Jamie Foxx as the legendary Ray Charles. Looking even farther back to The Doors, unsurprisingly a film about Jim Morrison and the band The Doors. These films along with others are seen as classics and are highly regarded for their almost uncanny performance as their respective subjects, yet none of them have seen the box office success which Bohemian Rhapsody saw.

Personally, as a very avid film and music fan I’m very much looking forward to this wave of movies. Regardless of reviews, Bohemian Rhapsody was clearly made with passion as the film’s team worked closely with Queen themselves to introduce the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen to a new generation. Rocketman as well was made working closely with Elton John; undoubtedly Elton John will see a spike in streams and record sales if it sees the same kind of success as Bohemian Rhapsody.

Rock Biopics

Unfortunately, film trends tend to start out with a handful of passionately made movies followed by films that lack the same care and are only really made as commercial shells of the story they try to portray. Bohemian Rhapsody did so well because at its core, its subject is one that now more than ever resonates with people and needs to be told. In the words of Rami Malek, the actor who portrayed Freddie Mercury:

"That kid was struggling with his identity... I think to anyone struggling... we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself. The fact that I'm celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we're longing for stories like this."

What’s more important than telling the story of sex, drugs, and rock and roll is to tell stories that create emotion, than can connect to people who don’t have many idols to look up to.

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