The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody became the highest-grossing LGBTQ film in box office history, according to the Washington Blade.
Earning $127 million domestically and an estimated $384 million globally, Bohemian Rhapsody broke a previous box office record for LGBTQ-themed films that was held by The Birdcage, a 1996 Robin Williams-starring remake of La Cage Aux Folles.
The film also broke barriers by topping foreign box offices in at least 12 countries with explicitly anti-LGBTQ laws: Bolivia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Paraguay, Poland, and Slovakia.
The Queen-themed rock film also became the second highest-grossing music biopic of all time, following close on the heels of the 2015 rap biopic Straight Outta Compton. But the Freddie Mercury film is only just entering its fourth week in theaters, and already knocked the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line out of second place in the music category.
It’s unclear what defines a film as LGBTQ, especially as more films add LGBTQ characters and storylines. But in past analyses of top-grossing LGBTQ films, GLAAD has categorized them as “Movies that primarily deal with homosexual themes or where the main characters are gay.”
Even as Bohemian Rhapsody dons its crown as the most money-making queer film ever, the movie has been the target of ongoing criticism over the way it portrays Mercury’s sexuality and his experience with HIV and AIDS.
Critics — like Sorry To Bother You director Boots Riley — have questioned why the film leans on the concept of Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis as his downfall in the film, even though Mercury did not learn his HIV status until well after the events depicted in the movie.
And many in the LGBTQ community were disappointed by lead actor Rami Malek’s response when asked by INTO whether Freddie Mercury, who he portrays in the film, is a gay icon.
“Ummm…I don’t…I think the way…what’s really great about him is he never, uh, wanted to, or thought of himself as being boxed into anything,” Malek told INTO in a late October interview before the film’s release. “He just was. I mean, he even…I’ve heard him say, you know, when asked, he says ‘I’m just me.'”
“Icon, I think, encompasses whatever, uh…the way you identify,” said Malek.