Bohemian Rhapsody has become the highest-grossing biopic of all-time, thanks in large part to Queen’s East Asian fans. According to sales figures from IMDB’s Box Office Mojo, the biopic has made more money in South Korea ($70 million) and in Japan ($64 million) than in the band’s home of Great Britain ($63 million). The Asian sales numbers were only bested by the U.S., where the film grossed $195 million as of January 9th.
The biopic’s popularity for Korean and Japanese fans may be attributed to “sing-along” screenings of the film in South Korea, where moviegoers are also encouraged to dress up as Freddie Mercury. K-pop groups like Nature have been also covered Queen songs during televised appearances. The Washington Post noted that more Queen-related events have cropped up in South Korea, including a photo exhibit from the band’s official photographer Richard Young and a tour headlined by the tribute group, the Bohemians.
In Tokyo, Bohemian Rhapsody fandom has – for now – completely upended the Japan’s austere movie-viewing experience. Since Rhapsody, multiplexes have allowed moviegoers to dance, stand up, cheer and sing along during viewings of the film. It has also become a popular topic of conversation in various communal spaces around Tokyo.
For Korean and Japanese fans, the film has tapped into generational nostalgia while also exposing the band to a younger generation. Queen had immense popularity in both countries during the Seventies and Eighties, and that long relationship between the band and their fans there even prompted a gracious “thank you” video from guitarist Brian May where he marvels at the movie’s success in Korea specifically.