The music of Elton John couldn't quite conquer Godzilla this weekend but still carried Rocketman to great heights.
Rocketman opened in third place at the U.S. box office behind Godzilla: King of Monsters and Aladdin. But with a $25 million debut domestically, that's a stronger debut than Paramount anticipated for the film, according to Box Office Mojo. The biopic so far tallied $56 million in ticket sales worldwide.
Audiences will decide where the future lies, but after the studio reportedly dropped $40 million to produce the film, the strong opening already makes Rocketman an unqualified success.
The weird and wonderful movie also earned rave reviews. Rotten Tomatoesso far reports a 91 percent fresh rating from critics and an 88 percent score from audiences.
The film debut marks the fourth best domestic opening for a music biopic, behind the $26.5 million opening for 2017's All Eyez on Me. But with a summer opening, the studio expects the lifetime gross of Rocketman to far exceed the $44.9 million lifetime take of the film about Tupac Shakur.
It's less likely to approach the other films on that list, 2015's Straight Outta Compton and last year's Bohemian Rhapsody, another queer-centric rock biography.
Paramount elected to release an R-rated cut. Bohemian Rhapsody in contrast somehow offered an account of Freddie Mercury's life free of graphic sex in order to keep a PG-13 rating.
Local distributors controversially released a de-gayed version for Russian audiences. That decision drew a rebuke from Elton John and other producers. "That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people," read a statement from John.
But filmmakers likely won't feel too heartbroken, even if they tried. After spending Saturday night fighting monsters and genies and still coming out with a healthy profit, studio executives suggest the film has a golden road ahead this summer.
Kyle Davies, Paramount's president of domestic distribution, said the rare decision to release this type of Oscar-bait film in the summer came because they see the counter-programming opportunities against popcorn blockbusters.
"For us, the advantage of going in the summer was counterprogramming," Davies told Variety. "It's an R-rated movie for adults. I think that will be our advantage."