Bob Marley biopic takes the sting out of ‘Madame Web’ in holiday box office

A woman and a man laugh on a sofa.
Lashana Lynch and Kingsley Ben-Adir in the movie “Bob Marley: One Love.”
(Chiabella James / Paramount Pictures)

Moviegoers over the Presidents Day weekend are showing more love for musicians with dreads than heroines with webs.

“Bob Marley: One Love,” the biopic spotlighting the legendary reggae star, exceeded expectations, taking in an estimated $51 million in its first six days — nearly double the $25.8 million of Sony’s “Madame Web,” the latest Marvel saga about a female superhero according to the market research firm Comscore. Both films debuted on Wednesday, Valentine’s Day.

Critics have not found much to sing about when it comes to “Bob Marley: One Love,” although there has been considerable praise for Kingsley Ben-Adir’s portrayal of Marley, who became a global superstar with hits like “Jammin’” and “Get Up, Stand up.”

According to Deadline, “One Love’s” three-day numbers ($27.7 million for Friday-Monday) were in line with those of other rock star biopics such as “Elvis” ($31.2 million in June 2022) and “Rocketman” ($25.7 million in May 2019), but trailed “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which grossed $51 million in November 2018.

Too much content, too fast. The drive to put out more and more superhero material could ultimately prove bad for business.

March 20, 2023


But the critical and popular reception of “Madame Web” has been largely negative, sparking more buzz about audiences undergoing superhero fatigue. It marks the second straight disappointment for Marvel since the poor showing late last year of “The Marvels,” the lowest performing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Madame Web” stars Dakota Johnson as a Manhattan paramedic who has the power to see the future. The film is marginally set within the “Spider-Man” franchise.

This week, Focus Features’ “Drive-Away Dolls,” directed by Ethan Coen and starring Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan, and “Ordinary Angels,” starring Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson, open theatrically.