With $50 million debut, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is no poor boy

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Gwilym Lee, from left, Rami Malek and Joe Mazzello in a scene from “Bohemian Rhapsody.” (Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)

NEW YORK — The Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and 20th Century Fox are — for now, at least — champions of the world.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” starring Rami Malek as the late Queen frontman, shrugged off production troubles and mediocre reviews to debut with $50 million in weekend ticket sales in U.S. and Canada, and another $72.5 million internationally, according to studio estimates Sunday. That was well beyond expectations, which had pegged the film closer to $35-40 million in its opening weekend.

But audiences rushed to theaters to see the widely praised performance by Malek, the “Mr. Robot” star, and to hear Queen’s foot-stomping anthems like “We are the Champions,” ‘’Another One Bites the Dust” and the operatic title song. The movie at times has an almost concert-like feel, including a lengthy re-creation of the band’s 1985 Live Aid performance.

In soaring to No. 1, the Fox release trounced one from Disney. Despite a production budget of $125 million, the Walt Disney Co.’s lavish “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” opened with just $20 million. Disney is set to merge with Fox, effectively ending the 103-year-old Fox.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday also are included.

1. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $50 million ($72.5 million international).

2. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” $20 million ($38.5 million international).

3. “Nobody’s Fool,” $14 million ($265,000 international).

4. “A Star Is Born,” $11.1 million ($13.9 million international).

5. “Halloween,” $11 million ($18.3 million international).

6. “Venom,” $7.9 million ($15.6 million international).

7. “Smallfoot,” $3.8 million ($12.1 million international).

8. “Goosebumps 2,” $3.7 million ($9 million international).

9. “Hunter Killer,” $3.5 million ($3.3 million international).

10. “The Hate U Give,” $3.4 million.

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