By Cameron Rasmusson
Starting this week, relive one of the greatest musical journeys of the ‘70s and ‘80s when “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits the Panida Theater.
A biopic covering the legendary rock band Queen and its charismatic frontman, Freddie Mercury, the movie follows the band from obscurity to pop-culture immortality. Along the way, the band endures turmoil among its members and a devastating AIDS diagnosis. It’s a dramatic undercurrent for a visually spectacular and infectious retelling of Queen’s greatest hits and shows, culminating in the band’s legendary 1985 Live Aid performance.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” proved a massive box office hit following its Nov. 2 U.S. release, raking in $700 million on a $50 million budget and earning ninth place among the year’s highest-grossing movies. That’s enough to distinguish it as the highest-grossing musical biopic to date, unseating the previous record holder, 2015’s “Staight Outta Compton,” by a wide margin.
The film overcame a hellish production to mint its box-office gold. Originally, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was set to star Sacha Baron Cohen as Mercury, but the comedian left the production over creative differences with its producers. Then, as the movie advanced from pre-production to filming, director Bryan Singer was eventually fired and replaced by Dexter Fletcher after a string of unannounced absences from the set. Singer now faces allegations of sexual misconduct and is yet another high-powered Hollywood mogul under scrutiny following the arrest and prosecution of producer Harvey Weinstein.
Whether they praised or panned the movie, most critics found a star in lead actor Rami Malek, who portrays Mercury at both the highest and lowest points of his life. Capturing both the humanity and magnetic star power of a pop culture icon is no small feat, but Malek proved more than up to the task. According to a Rolling Stone account of the production, the 37-year-old actor underwent an exhaustive training program to become the rock star, undergoing coaching to replicate his movement, accent, singing and piano playing. That level of commitment is no surprise to audience members who follow Malek in the critically-acclaimed show “Mr. Robot,” in which the actor delivers an award-winning performance as the brilliant but troubled cybersecurity engineer and hacker Elliot Alderson.
See the story behind your favorite Queen songs when “Bohemian Rhapsody” screens at the Panida Theater from Jan. 4-6. Tickets are available online at www.panida.org or at the door for 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 5 and 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 6.
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