Freddy Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" soared to the top spot at the North American box office over the weekend, proving again that audiences matter more than critics.
The film unexpectedly pulled in $51 million, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said on Monday, coming in well ahead of Disney's new "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms," at $20 million, and Paramount's "Nobody's Fool," with $13.8 million.
"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 as "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 $50 million production cost of "Rhapsody" with the film's opening-weekend take, Disney was not faring as well with "Nutcracker," which cost $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 $11 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 played by Lady Gaga.
Not far behind in fifth was Universal's "Halloween," at $10.8 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" ($7.9 million)
"Smallfoot" ($3.9 million)
"Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" ($3.8 million)
"Hunter Killer" ($3.5 million)
"The Hate U Give" ($3.4 million)