Bohemian bops box office, Freddie’s faith

Arts, Features

Staff & Wire Reports

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)

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)

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


AP Film Writer

Monday, November 5

NEW YORK (AP) — 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, which Bryan Singer directed before being replaced by Dexter Fletcher, at times has an almost concert-like feel, including a lengthy re-creation of the band’s 1985 Live Aid performance.

“It really is a celebration of Queen and their music, and I think we did a really good job of letting people know that that’s what this is,” said Chris Aronson, distribution chief for Fox.

In soaring to No. 1, the Fox release trounced one from Disney, which will soon own the studio. Despite a production budget of $125 million, the Walt Disney Co.’s lavish, big-budget “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” opened with just $20 million. Disney is set to merge with Fox in the coming months, effectively ending the 103-year-old Fox, one of Hollywood’s six major studios.

“We were hoping for a stronger start, but we do think it’s a film that people will find as we head into the holidays,” said Cathleen Taff, head of theatrical distribution for Disney.

Though Disney’s record of success is the envy of Hollywood, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” marks the studio’s third misfire this year following the underperforming “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Solo.” The studio’s CGI-stuffed resurrection of E.T.A. Hoffmann story was positioned as an early holiday season release, but flopped with critics (34 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes) and sparked only modest interest from audiences. It grossed $38.5 million overseas.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” made for $52 million, was largely dismissed by critics as an overly conventional rock biopic (60 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes). But the film proved more popular with moviegoers, who gave the PG-13 release, produced by Graham King, an A CinemaScore and 4 1/2 stars out of five on Comscore’s PostTrak audience survey.

“Even in the negativity that came out of critics, there was always a ‘but,’ almost universally: ‘But Rami is great,’” noted Aronson. “I’m very happy for Graham and Rami and the entire filmmaking team. And I’m happy for the home team. This is a big win for Fox.”

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, praised Fox’s rollout of the film as “pitch perfect.” Dergarabedian also cited Malek’s breakout big-screen performance and the sustained interest in all things musical at the box office. Musically based films have lately been major draws in theaters, from Fox’s own “The Greatest Showman” earlier in the year to Warner Bros.’ Oscar favorite “A Star Is Born,” which collected another $11.1 million in its fifth weekend for $165.6 million overall.

“It seems that audiences can’t get enough of movies that have music baked into their DNA,” Dergarabedian said. “That’s proving to be a very successful formula.”

Another winning formula — Tiffany Haddish plus anything — came up short over the weekend.

“Nobody’s Fool,” which paired Haddish with another box-office force in writer-director-producer Tyler Perry, opened in third with a so-so $14 million. While far from disastrous for a movie that cost $19 million to make, the muted performance of “Nobody’s Fool” seemed likely a result of oversaturation. Two films starring Haddish — “Night School” and “The Oath” — have opened in the past six weeks, and “Night School” is still No. 12 at the box office.

In limited release, Joel Edgerton’s acclaimed gay conversion therapy drama “Boy Erased,” starring Lucas Hedges, opened with a strong per-theater average of $44,000 in five theaters.

Matthew Heineman’s “A Private War,” starring Rosamund Pike as war correspondent Marie Colvin, opened in four theaters with a per-theater average of $18,000.

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. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

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.


Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $72.5 million.

2. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” $38.5 million.

3. “Halloween,” $18.3 million.

4. “Venom,” $15.6 million.

5. “A Star Is Born,” $13.9 million

6. “Smallfoot,” $12.1 million.

7. “Intimate Strangers,” $10.1 million.

8. “Goosebumps 2,” $9 million.

9. “Le Grand Bain,” $7.4 million.

10. “The House With a Clock in its Walls,” $7.2 million.


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at:

The Conversation

Freddie Mercury’s family faith: The ancient religion of Zoroastrianism

November 3, 2018


Vasudha Narayanan

Professor of Religion, University of Florida

Disclosure statement

Vasudha Narayanan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: University of Florida provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

In the Freddie Mercury biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” there’s a scene in which a family member scolds Mercury.

“So now the family name is not good enough for you?”

“I changed it legally,” Mercury responds. “No looking back.”

It might come as a surprise to some that Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara. He came from a Parsi family that had roots in India and he was a Zoroastrian by faith.

In the world religion courses I teach at the University of Florida, we discuss Zoroastrianism.

Fleeing religious persecution from Muslims in Persia sometime between the seventh and 10th centuries, the Zoroastrians settled in India, where they came to be called “Parsis.”

Like Freddie Mercury, they worked to integrate into their new surroundings. Yet they also stayed true to the values, beliefs, and practices of their religion, which many scholars say had an influence on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

A precursor for Christianity?

The Zoroastrian faith is one of the world’s oldest religions, one that could date back as far as 1200 B.C.

Zoroaster, a prophet who lived in modern-day Iran, is viewed as the founder of Zoroastrianism.

We’re not sure when Zoroaster lived, though some say it was around 1200 B.C. He is thought to have composed the Gathas, the hymns that make up a significant portion of the Yasna, which are the liturgical texts of the Zoroastrians.

According to the Zoroastrian tradition, Ahura Mazda is the supreme lord and creator; he represents all that is good. In this aspect, the religion is one of the oldest examples of monotheism, or the belief in one god.

The main tenets of the faith center on the opposition between Ahura Mazda and the forces of evil which are embodied by Angra Mainyu, the spirit of destruction, malignancy and chaos. This evil spirit creates a serpent named Azi Dahaka, a symbol of the underworld, not unlike the Biblical serpents of Judeo-Christian traditions.

Within this cosmic battle we see the tension between “asha,” which roughly translates to “truth,” “righteousness,” “justice” or “good things,” and “druj,” or deceit.

Truth is represented by light, and Parsis will always turn to a source of light when they pray, with fire, the sun and the moon all symbolizing this spiritual light.

Indeed, scholars have noted the strong historical influence that Zoroastrianism has had on concepts seen in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, whether it’s monotheism, the duality of good and evil, or Satan

Today Zoroastrianism has a small but devout following, though it’s been shrinking.

In 2004, it was estimated that there were between 128,000 and 190,000 Zoroastrians living around the world, with 18,000 residing in the United States.

Like sugar in milk

The “Qissa e Sanjan,” which translates to “The Story of Sanjan,” was composed around the 17th century. It describes how the Zoroastrians, fleeing religious persecution from Muslim invasions in their Persian homeland many centuries earlier, head to Gujarat, in western India.

Once they arrive, they reach out to the local king, whom they call “Jadi Rana.” He agrees to give them land if they adopt local dress, language and some customs. However there is never any question about religious faith: They still practice their religion, and Jadi Rana is elated that these newcomers worship as they please.

Parsi history has two versions of what took place.

In one, when the Zoroastrian refugees arrived in Gujarat, the king sends them a jar of milk filled to the top – his way of saying that his kingdom is full and there’s no room for any more people. In response, the newcomers stir in a spoonful of sugar and send it back to the king. In other words, not only do they promise to integrate with the local population, but that they’ll also enhance it with their presence.

In the other version, they drop a gold ring into the bowl to show they’ll retain their identity and culture, but they’ll nonetheless add immense value to the region.

These are both compelling narratives, though they make slightly different points. One extols the integration of immigrants, while the other highlights the value of different cultures living together but in harmony.

Parsis in India – and wherever they have gone – have done both. They’ve adopted some of the customs of the land they live in, while maintaining their distinctive culture, religious rituals, and beliefs.

They’ve also made more cultural contributions than the initial wave of refugees to Gujarat could have ever imagined.

Despite their small numbers, Parsis can count a number of famous musicians, scientists, scholars, artists and entrepreneurs among their ranks.

Beyond Freddie Mercury, there’s Zubin Mehta, the director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Jamshedji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, the largest business conglomerate in India; Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian elected to the British Parliament; Harvard professor Homi K. Bhabha; and nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha, to name a few.

Freddie Mercury’s family were migrants. Their first home was in India. Then they moved to Zanzibar, before finally settling in England.

Like his ancestors, Freddie Mercury integrated into a new culture. He changed his name, and became a Western pop icon.

Yet through it all, he remained immensely proud of his heritage.

“I think what his Zoroastrian faith gave him,” his sister Kashmira Cooke explained in 2014, “was to work hard, to persevere, and to follow your dreams.”

The CSO’s Annual HOLIDAY POPS to Ring In the Season November 30, December 1 & 2

An annual Columbus tradition since 1983, the CSO’s Holiday Pops is the creation of chorus master and conductor Ronald Jenkins who has led all 108 performances to date. In 2018, Jenkins, the musicians of the Columbus Symphony, and the 130 members of the Columbus Symphony Chorus, will be joined by more than 100 voices from the Columbus Children’s Choir, dancers from the BalletMet Academy, narrator Steven Crawford, and of course, Santa Claus for this heartwarming holiday spectacular.

The Columbus Symphony presents Holiday Pops at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.) on Friday, November 30, at 8pm; Saturday, December 1, at 3pm and 8pm; and Sunday, December 2, at 3pm. Tickets are $26-$69 and can be purchased in person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

The 2018 Holiday Pops program will begin with Hess’ “Christmas Overture,” followed by Handel’s “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” from Messiah. Then the program will feature CSO concertmaster Joanna Frankel playing the first movement of Vivaldi’s “Winter.” The orchestra will continue with Stephen Main’s serenely beautiful “Fantasy on an Appalachian Carol.” The chorus and orchestra will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer, conductor, and educator Leonard Bernstein with the “Chichester Psalms” featuring countertenor Arthur Marks. The first half will conclude with Craig Courtney’s brilliant and humorous setting of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

The second half will open with the audience joining in singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and “Silent Night.” The choruses will continue a new work by Dan Forrest, his arrangement of the old English carol, “See, Amid the Winter’s Snow.” A child will be selected from the audience to guest conduct the orchestra in the annual holiday favorite, “Sleigh Ride,” which will lead into a reading of The Night Before Christmas” by narrator Steven Crawford accompanied by BalletMet Academy dancers and the music of Randol Bass.

Santa will make his 35th appearance as part of the annual Holiday Pops celebration, closing out the program in grand holiday style. He will also be available for photos in the lobby after both matinee performances.


The Columbus Symphony presents HOLIDAY POPS

Friday, November 30, 8pm

Saturday, December 1, 3pm & 8pm

Sunday, December 2, 3pm

Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)

A great annual Columbus tradition continues as Ronald J. Jenkins leads the Columbus Symphony and Chorus in some of the season’s most-loved holiday songs and carols. Santa will also stop by to help spread the holiday cheer! Tickets are $26-$69 and can be purchased in person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

The 2018-19 season is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. The CSO also appreciates the support of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, supporting the city’s artists and arts organizations since 1973, and the Kenneth L. Coe and Jack Barrow, and Mr. and Mrs. Derrol R. Johnson funds of The Columbus Foundation, assisting donors and others in strengthening our community for the benefit of all its citizens.

About the Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1951, the Columbus Symphony is the longest-running, professional symphony in central Ohio. Through an array of innovative artistic, educational, and community outreach programming, the Columbus Symphony is reaching an expanding, more diverse audience each year. This season, the Columbus Symphony will share classical music with more than 175,000 people in central Ohio through concerts, radio broadcasts, and special programming. For more information, visit

Hotel LeVeque unveils Holiday Lights & Shopping Package

Columbus, OH — The stunning Hotel LeVeque, an Autograph Collection Hotel located Columbus’ historic LeVeque Tower, today announced a getaway package that enables visitors to experience the city’s incredible holiday lights and shopping, with special emphasis on locally crafted gifts and goodies found only in Columbus. Throughout the holidays, Hotel LeVeque’s soaring Art Deco façade is bathed in red and green lights and elegant holiday décor. Reservations and complete Hotel LeVeque information are available at

Starting at just $229 for two (add $20 each for children), Hotel LeVeque’s Holiday Lights & Shopping Package is available Dec. 7-27 and includes:

Deluxe guestroom with a spectacular view of the city’s glittering riverfront, bedecked in holiday finery and 250,000 lights

Two-hour guided tour of Columbus’ holiday lights, led by the gifted guides at Columbus City Adventures, featuring the Scioto Mile, Festival of Lights at Columbus Commons and the beloved Christmas Corner tradition, a life-sized Nativity display with live holiday music (Guided tour available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays Dec. 6-27)

A holiday shopping guide, featuring the Made in CBus Trail with more than a dozen stops offering locally crafted gifts (Visit just four stops for a complimentary Made in CBus T-shirt, which makes a wonderful gift)

A goodie bag packed with all you need for wrapping the gifts you purchased on the trail, including paper, tissue, tape, scissors and gift tags

Hot cocoa for two

Breakfast for two at Hotel LeVeque’s esteemed restaurant, The Keep

Turndown service with starlight planetarium room lighting

Owned and operated by Rosemont, Ill.-based First Hospitality Group, Inc., Hotel LeVeque opened to stellar reviews in March 2017. With 149 guest rooms and suites in the historic LeVeque Tower, the property is located at 50 E. Broad St. in the heart of downtown in Ohio’s capital city. An Autograph Collection property, Hotel LeVeque is part of Marriott International’s boutique collection of hotels, each of which is carefully selected for its quality, bold originality, rich character and uncommon details that embody a truly unique sense of place.

Originally built in 1927 as the American Insurance Union Citadel, the LeVeque Tower was architect Charles Howard Crane’s masterpiece and at the time was the tallest skyscraper between New York City and Chicago and the fifth tallest building in the world. Once home to the graceful Deshler Wallick Hotel, it became known as the LeVeque Tower. The LeVeque Tower’s remarkable art deco architecture remains the city’s most recognizable and most photographed and revered architectural treasures. Illuminating the city’s night skyline as a soaring tower bathed in light, the LeVeque’s beauty has been carefully preserved.

About First Hospitality Group, Inc.

First Hospitality Group, Inc. (FHG) is a leading hotel management, acquisition and development company with more than 30 years of award-winning experience. FHG’s unique people-driven professional culture fosters a team of highly skilled and motivated hospitality experts who consistently deliver outstanding property level performance, as well as memorable and engaging guest experiences. Headquartered in Chicago, FHG’s portfolio features 19 brands and 46 properties throughout the Midwest. Having been recognized in 2016 as #1 in Travel in Forbes America’s Best Midsize Employers 2016, #28 overall, and #3 among all of America’s best travel companies, FHG moved up to a #19 ranking out of the 250 best midsize employers in the country in 2017 and #1 in the Travel category for the second year in a row. FHG is one of only 25 companies to ever place on the Forbes list two consecutive years. For more information, visit

About Autograph Collection Hotels

Autograph Collection Hotels celebrates individuality by curating one-of-a-kind travel experiences at more than 100 luxury lifestyle hotels found in the world’s most desirable destinations. Exactly like nothing else, Autograph Collection properties are hand selected for their rich character and uncommon details. A personal realization of an individual founder’s vision, these hotels are defined by unique design, differentiated guest experiences and their meaningful role in locality. For more information, please visit, and explore our social media channels on Instagram Twitter and Facebook to learn more about championing the independent spirit that is #ExactlyLikeNothingElse. Autograph Collection Hotels is proud to participate in the industry’s award-winning loyalty program, Marriott Rewards®, in which members can link accounts with Starwood Preferred Guest® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® for instant elite status matching and unlimited points transfer.

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is the world’s largest hotel company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with nearly 6,000 properties in 120 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts. The company’s 30 leading brands include: Bulgari®, The Ritz-Carlton® and The Ritz-Carlton Reserve®, St. Regis®, W®, EDITION®, JW Marriott®, The Luxury Collection®, Marriott Hotels®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Renaissance® Hotels, Sheraton®, Delta Hotels by MarriottSM, Marriott Executive Apartments®, Marriott Vacation Club®, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Tribute Portfolio™, Design Hotels™, Gaylord Hotels®, Courtyard®, Four Points® by Sheraton, SpringHill Suites®, Fairfield Inn & Suites®, Residence Inn®, TownePlace Suites®, AC Hotels by Marriott®, Aloft®, Element®, Moxy® Hotels, and Protea Hotels by Marriott®. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®. For more information, please visit our website at, and for the latest company news, visit and @MarriottIntl.

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) 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)
Arts, Features

Staff & Wire Reports