The trend of musical biopics

This up-and-coming genre is taking the box office by storm


Nick Prince, Reporter

Musical artists often make their mark on the world while they’re alive, but for truly great artists, their legacies transcend death.

The latest trend in Hollywood is to produce movies, commonly referred to as biopics,  about a famous or influential person’s life. In fact, biopics have been so popular in the last few decades that 14 men have won the Academy Award for Best Actor for portraying a real person, and women aren’t far behind with 12 wins in the Best Actress category, according to the Australia Broadcasting Company.

“I think what brings people into biopics is that these are people we know, we’ve either heard or seen these people, so to see where they came from, albeit with a bit of Hollywood magic, is intriguing to watch,” junior Stephen Gaetano said.

One of the most compelling types of biopics in the industry are musical biopics, which are biopics about a musical artist’s life that uses their songs in the soundtrack. Elvis is the newest musical biopic to be released and it has taken the box office by storm. Elvis has raked in almost $270 million in the two months since its release, according to IMDb, which is no small feat considering it’s director Baz Luhrmann’s first biopic.

However, biopics haven’t been popular forever. This category of movie has only gained in popularity in the last 20 years, with many recent ones being box office hits, such as Straight Outta Compton, Rocketman, and The Theory of Everything, just to name a few. Even still, it hasn’t been until the last 5 years that teenagers have begun to notice this emerging genre.

“Biopics have been so compelling recently because people already love these famous people like Elvis, Elton John, etcetera, and then movies come out about them and attract even more popularity to other generations,” sophomore Ellie Dablow said.

Elvis isn’t the only musical biopic to have made huge strides in theaters in the past few years. Bohemian Rhapsody, released in 2018, broke all expectations when it came to theaters. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, taking home four of them, as well as grossing just over $900 million worldwide, according to IMDb

“My favorite biopic that I’ve seen is Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody because I’ve always been a fan of Queen and I thought the casting was amazing with how accurate the actors were to their counterparts,” Gaetano said about the breakout film.

*38 NAHS students polled

One reason that musical biopics have become so popular is because they shed more light on artists’ stories and give a wider audience some insight into their beginnings and their careers, according to Vulture.

“I think the reason musical stars have been getting biopics lately is because of how much artists change over the years, many artists go through different bands, members, or going from solo to not solo acts, so it’s crazy seeing all of this unfold,” Gaetano said.

Another reason as to why musical biopics are a growing genre is because of the popular music featured in them. It’s a chance for artists to reach new audiences, as well as giving their loyal fans a new way to appreciate their art. After the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, streams and sales of Queen’s music more than tripled, with nearly 2 billion streams and 2 million units sold, according to Billboard.

“[Elvis] is one the whole family and your grandparents would enjoy,” Dablow said. “It introduced me to many of Elvis’s songs and the impact he had on the music industry.”

Now that biopics are being critically acclaimed, it’s likely that more and more artists will have movies made about their lives. Seeing how movies like Bohemian Rhapsody and Elvis have given their respective subjects new life in the music industry is going to encourage filmmakers to explore the genre of biopics and see what triumphs, or failures, it might hold. And while they do that, audiences will continue to enjoy the movies they make.

“The reimagined songs sound so close to the originals and the reenacting of iconic performances right in your face is a sight to behold,” Gaetano said.

It seems as if many other teenagers and adults agree with him. The feeling you get when seeing the life of an icon displayed on a screen is something that can be replicated. Music is at the core of who so many people are, and has been touching lives for as long as it’s existed, and that’s something that won’t change, whether biopics hang around for decades or not. Music will always find new ways to reach the people that need it the most.