LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Proving again that audiences matter more than critics, Fox’s Freddy Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody rocked North American box offices this weekend with a solid US$50 million (S$69 million) take, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday (Nov 4).

The film’s unexpectedly strong launch put it well ahead of Disney’s new The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, at US$20 million, and Paramount’s Nobody’s Fool, with US$14 million in estimated ticket sales for the three-day weekend.

Rhapsody, with Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek starring as the charismatic Mercury, thus logged one of the best openings ever for a music biopic.

The movie has received decidedly mixed reviews, however. Vox.com dismissed it “a crashingly dull movie about … one of the least drab humans who ever lived,” while the Washington Post called it a “bad movie that works, even when it shouldn’t.”

But Malek, a Primetime Emmy winner for his role in TV’s Mr Robot, has won mostly high praise.

While Fox essentially paid the US$50 million production cost of Rhapsody with the film’s opening-weekend take, Disney was not faring as well with Nutcracker, which cost US$125 million to make. The studio hopes the classic Christmas tale will hold on through the holidays, Variety said.

But like Rhapsody, the Keira Knightley film got some less-than-glowing reviews. “Tchaikovsky,” said Rolling Stone, “is rolling in his grave.”

Nor did “Nobody’s Fool,” Tyler Perry’s first R-rated comedy, do much better on the critic’s couch, with HollywoodReporter.com deploring its “clumsy, misshapen script.” It stars the popular Tiffany Haddish as a newly paroled woman who tries to help her sister get revenge on a man who deceived her.

In fourth place, Warner Bros.’s “A Star Is Born” earned a solid US$11.1 million in its fifth week out. Bradley Cooper, in his directorial debut, plays a hard-drinking musician who has a star-crossed love affair with a talented young singer (Lady Gaga).

Not far behind in fifth was Universal’s “Halloween,” at US$11 million. The low-budget horror film has Laurie Strode (played again by Jamie Lee Curtis) in a final confrontation with a masked homicidal maniac decades after she survived his first killing spree.

Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were: “Venom” (US$7.9 million) “Smallfoot” (US$3.8 million) “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” (US$3.7 million) “Hunter Killer” (US$3.5 million) “The Hate U Give” ($3.4 million)

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