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'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'Nutcracker' top the box office despite production hiccups

'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'Nutcracker' top the box office despite production hiccups
From left, Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury) and Joe Mazzello (John Deacon) in "Bohemian Rhapsody." (Alex Bailey / 20th Century Fox)

This week, two films that were dogged by production troubles came out on top at the box office.

Fox's “Bohemian Rhapsody” opened in first place with $50 million, well above analyst predictions of $35 million, according to figures from measurement firm ComScore. That result makes it the best opening for a music biopic since 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton” earned $60 million over its opening weekend.

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The highly anticipated classic-rock drama, which cost an estimated $52 million to make, stars Rami Malek as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. With an A CinemaScore rating and a 60% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes, it is the latest movie to overcome less-than-enthusiastic reviews and find box office success, joining the ranks of recent hits “The Meg,” “The Nun,” “Night School” and “Venom.”

“It’s always gratifying when you know how good your film is,” said Chris Aronson, the studio's distribution chief. “This movie is the quintessential example of what a communal moviegoing experience is all about, because you really do feel as though you're at a rock concert, and that’s pretty amazing.”

Disney's "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms" debuted at No. 2, with $20 million, on the low end of analyst predictions of $20 million to $25 million.

Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's 19th century Christmas story that later inspired the ballet “The Nutcracker” earned mixed reviews with audiences and critics, with a B-plus CinemaScore rating and a 34% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is a rare misfire for Disney, which leads the overall box office this year.

Both of the top films experienced trouble during production and required multiple directors. Disgraced filmmaker Bryan Singer was originally attached to “Bohemian Rhapsody” before being fired in December for failing to show up to the set. He is still credited, though “Eddie the Eagle” director Dexter Fletcher was tapped to finish the project.

"The Nutcracker" originally hired Lasse Hallstrom to direct but replaced him with Joe Johnston after Hallstrom was unavailable to return for significant reshoots. Johnston was tasked with completing the film in just 32 days.

In third place, Paramount’s “Nobody's Fool” premiered with $14 million.

The first R-rated comedy from director Tyler Perry, the film came in a bit short of analyst predictions of $15 million. The result is the third lowest opening of Perry's 19 films, topping only “Single Moms Club” and “Daddy's Little Girls.” It is also notably his first film distributed by a major studio.

Starring Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter and Whoopi Goldberg, “Nobody's Fool” earned mixed reviews with audiences and critics, with an A-minus rating on CinemaScore and a 25% “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes.

In fourth place, Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born,” now in its fifth weekend, added $11.1 million for a cumulative $165.6 million. Globally, the film has earned $293.9 million.

Rounding out the top five, Universal’s “Halloween,” now in its third weekend, added $11 million for a cumulative $150.4 million.

In limited release, Focus Features opened “Boy Erased” in five theaters to $220,000, a very strong per-screen average of $44,000. The film, based on a memoir about writer Garrard Conley’s experience with gay conversion therapy, stars Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges and is being floated as an awards contender. It earned an 85% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Aviron opened “A Private War” in four theaters to $72,000, a per-screen average of $18,000. Based on the true story of war correspondent Marie Colvin (played by Rosamund Pike), the film earned an 88% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

A24’s “Mid90s” added $1.4 million in its second weekend, for a cumulative $5.8 million.

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Amazon Studios expanded “Beautiful Boy” to 540 locations in its fourth weekend and earned just $1.4 million, for a cumulative $3.2 million. The studio also expanded “Suspiria” to 311 locations in its second weekend and earned $964,722 (also a weak result), for a cumulative $1.2 million.

Fox Searchlight expanded “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” into 180 locations in its third weekend and earned $1 million for a cumulative $1.8 million. The R-rated dramatic comedy is one to watch as awards season looms.

Next week, Universal opens the animated “The Grinch,” Sony and Columbia Pictures premiere the crime thriller “The Girl in the Spider's Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story" and Paramount debuts the horror “Overlord.”

2:14 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details.

This article was originally published at 10:15 a.m.

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