Box Office: Rocketman Blasts Off With $25M


Elton John biopic Rocket Man focuses on the singer’s early years and the movie’s soundtrack includes 22 songs from his entire career.

Counter-programmed against King of Monsters was Paramount’s Elton John biopic Rocketman, which debuted on 3,600 screens to a solid $25 million.

Rocketman did not fly quite as high as fellow recent rock biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which debuted to $51 million on Nov. 2 and went on the gross $216.4 million at the domestic box office.

With ‘Rocket Man,’ the first two lines came to me when I was driving along, and by the time I’d gotten home, I’d written the song in my head,” Bernie Taupin told Rolling Stone. “I got inside and had to rush and write it all down before I’d forgotten it.”
The U.S. landed its first manned mission to the moon in July of 1969, and the last landed back on Earth in December 1972. Within that timeframe came three iconic songs about traveling the stars: “Rocket Man,” David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” and Harry Nilsson’s “Spaceman.” With Bowie’s song hitting first (just a scant 10 days before the actual moon landing), it’s been assumed that “Oddity” inspired Taupin’s bolt of inspiration while driving.

“It was so important that the music I composed and recorded had to be sung by Taron,” John said in a press releas for rocket man. “I wanted his interpretation of me, through Bernie’s lyrics and my music — not just acting.”

“Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)rocket

This song is about Taupin’s teen years going to British dance clubs, where fights were common. Many of Taupin’s songs are written to relate to Elton’s life, but not this one – it’s unlikely that Elton would be fighting in a club (but you never know).

 “Crocodile Rock” (1972)

Elton’s lyricist Bernie Taupin told Esquire in 2011 that this song is “a strange dichotomy because I don’t mind having created it, but it’s not something I would listen to.”
This was the first of many #1 singles by Elton John in the US. His first in the UK came in 1976 with Kiki Dee (“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”). His first solo #1 in the UK was “Sacrifice” in 1990.
The falsetto hook from Pat Boone’s 1962 hit, “Speedy Gonzales” has some similar “La La”s, and that song’s writers spoke out, accusing Elton of plagiarism. (


“Border Song” became his first song to chart in the U.S. when it just dented the Hot 100 in 1970. Aretha Franklin’s cover did better when it peaked at No. 35 later that year. Taupin wrote the song’s first two verses, but, as they revealed in a joint interview with Rolling Stone in 1973, John contributed the last one to stretch out the song’s length. “That’s why the last verse is very mundane,” the singer said.

“Your Song” was the song that launched John to global stardom, becoming a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. But Taupin admitted in 1989 that his contribution is “one of the most naive and childish lyrics in the entire repertoire of music, but I think the reason it still stands up is because it was real at the time.” After receiving Taupin’s lyrics, John sat down at the piano in his parents’ North London apartment and wrote the melody and chord changes in about 20 minutes.


 “Tiny Dancer” (1971)

“We came to California in the fall of 1970, and sunshine radiated from the populace. I was trying to capture the spirit of that time, encapsulated by the women we met – especially at the clothes stores up and down the Strip in L.A. They were free spirits, sexy in hip-huggers and lacy blouses, and very ethereal, the way they moved. So different from what I’d been used to in England. And they all wanted to sew patches on your jeans. They’d mother you and sleep with you – (Bernie Taupin)

 “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (1976)

Kiki Dee explained in the book 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner & Spencer Leigh, “Both Elton and I were big fans of those duets on Motown by the likes of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and as there hadn’t been any around for a bit, we thought we’d do one ourselves.” Elton recorded his part in Toronto, then the tape was sent to London where Kiki Dee recorded her vocal. Producer Gus Dudgeon recalls, “I was with Elton in Canada and he actually sang about three quarters of the song and gave Kiki about four lines. I said, “Hang on a minute, is this supposed to be a duet or a guest appearance? Elton replied, ‘A duet.’ Then you’ve got to give her at least 50% of the song.” (

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (1974)

“My only recollections of this is that we wanted to write something big. I mean, big in that dramatic Spectory (as in Phil Spector) style, like ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.’ Hopefully being powerful without being pompous.

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 

“The lyrics to the title track do say that I want to leave Oz and get back to the farm,” Taupin told Rolling Stone in 2014. “I think that’s still my M.O. these days. I don’t mind getting out there and doing what everybody else was doing, but I always had to have an escape hatch.

Rocket man s coming out at the end of May.



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