June 20, 2024

Celebrity Biopics: What’s the deal? 

A new trend seems to be sweeping across the film industry right now: celebrity biopics. 

In the last decade, there has been a notable increase in the production of celebrity biopics, specifically exploring the lives of renowned and beloved musical artists. 

Musical biopics have been around for quite some time, with films such as “The Doors” and “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” which were both successful releases around 30 years ago. There appears to be a major boom of this genre in the 2010s and 2020s. 

Following the success of musical biopics such as “Elvis,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman” in recent years, 2024 and 2025 alone will see films highlighting the lives of singers such as Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson, with even more in various stages of production. 

The reason behind this apparent film phenomenon is simple. When a film performs as well as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman,” the film industry has difficulty ignoring the success they garner. Thus comes the urge to become the person who directs or produces the next big biopic to sweep the box office. 

But with any Hollywood film fad comes the risk that one must be willing to take. Whitney Houston’s biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” failed to leave a lasting impression and was met with criticism. Fans of hers believed it was too soon for a biopic, as she only died in 2012, opposed to Freddie Mercury who had died decades ago and was no longer considered “fresh.” 

This leaves the question of what level of success Michael Jackson’s biopic will have, as his death was only three years earlier in 2009. Only time will tell. 

However, regardless of how a biopic performs in the box office, there is always an apparent increase in the streaming of the artist’s musical catalog, which is a major benefit to the production of these movies. 

One of the biggest examples of this occurred after the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with Queen gaining 8.1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, which continues to increase at a relatively constant rate to this day. 

Both Elton John and Elvis Presley also experienced an uptick in monthly listeners on Spotify after the releases of their biopics. 

A lot of this is due in part to the connection biopics make between the past and the present and the new crowds that they are able to reach. 

Many of Gen Z have surface level knowledge of the artists these biopics are centered around, so the films allow them to learn more about the artist than they may have ever known. 

As such, a new wave of fans is born and the career of the artist is reborn posthumously. 

It seems likely there will be a variety of biopics hitting theaters for at least the next 5 years. As long as biopics continue to be so successful, that is.


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