After just one week in theaters, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis has grossed more than $40 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to boxofficemojo.com. The film, starring Austin Butler as the King, Elvis Presley, is already one of the 10 highest-grossing biopics of musicians since the 1970s.
How high will it climb on the list of top-grossing music biopics? It’s off to a fast start, but it’s not even one-fifth of the way to matching the “domestic” (meaning U.S. and Canada) grosses of the leader. (Can you guess what that is? All will be revealed.)
The 25 biopics of musicians on this list cover a wide range of genres. Pop/rock artists are the focus of eight the 25 films, followed by R&B (four); rap and classical (three each); country, Latin and traditional pop (two each); and contemporary Christian (one).
Biopics of five of the 10 artists who comprised the inaugural induction class at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dot this list. In addition to Elvis, there are biopics here of James Brown, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Methodology: Boxofficemojo.com maintains lists of top-grossing films searchable by dozens of “genre keywords.” Under “music,” we manually extracted biopics, which we define as films in which actors portray the musicians.
Disclaimers: Boxofficemojo.com’s research dates back to the mid-1970s, so music biopics released before that, such as 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues (about Billie Holiday) and 1968’s Funny Girl (about Fanny Brice) aren’t listed here. And some music biopics aren’t included on boxofficemojo’s list of top-grossing music films, including Judy (about Judy Garland) and Respect (about Aretha Franklin). Both of these films have grossed just over $24 million domestic, according to the site.