After just a week in theaters, Baz Luhrmann Elvis grossed over $40 million in the United States and Canada, according to boxofficemojo.com. The film, starring Austin Butler as the king, Elvis Presley, is already one of the 10 highest-grossing musician biopics since the 1970s.
How high will it rise on the list of highest-grossing musical biopics? It’s a quick start, but it’s not even a fifth of the way to match the leader’s “domestic” (i.e. US and Canada) revenue. (Can you guess what it is? All will be revealed.)
The 25 musician biopics on this list span a wide range of genres. Pop/rock artists are the focus of eight of the 25 films, followed by R&B (four); rap and classical (three each); country, Latin and traditional pop (two each); and contemporary Christian (one).
Biographies of five of the 10 artists who made up the first class of induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dot this list. In addition to Elvis, there are biopics of James Brown, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis here.
Methodology: Boxofficemojo.com maintains top-grossing movie lists searchable by dozens of “genre keywords.” Under ‘music’, we manually extracted biopics, which we define as films in which actors portray the musicians.
Disclaimer: Boxofficemojo.com research dates back to the mid-1970s, so music biopics released before that, such as those from 1972 lady sings the blues (about Billie Holiday) and 1968 funny girl (about Fanny Brice) are not listed here. And some musical biopics don’t make boxofficemojo’s list of highest-grossing musical films, including Judy (about Judy Garland) and Respect (about Aretha Franklin). Those two films earned just over $24 million domestically, according to the site.