Bob Marley Biopic Tops Box Office, Shattering Expectations

Bob Marley: One Love debuted at No. 1 at the box office collecting $33.2 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to $51 million. Internationally, the film earned $29 million and is expected to collect $80 million globally, exceeding expectations and toppling Marvel’s latest film. 

On its first day alone, the film raked in $14 million in North America, a record for a midweek Valentine’s Day debut. While critics remain mixed, the film is outperforming initial expectations.

The movie stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as the iconic artist and songwriter, Lashana Lynch as his wife and bandmate Rita Marley, and the film was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and distributed by Paramount Pictures. 

The Associated Press reports that Bob’s oldest son Ziggy gave producers his blessing, sealing the deal after deciding that making the film felt right this time around. “It was just a feeling,” Ziggy Marley told The Associated Press. “We explored it without knowing that we definitely wanted to do it because we needed to make sure that the people we did it with was the right people. People who respected what we wanted to do, the culture, the authenticity that we wanted.” The whole process took about five years to come to fruition.

The movie takes place during a period of tumult. “I’m a movie guy,” Ziggy said. “My selfish goal was to have a movie that had entertainment and action. I said to them, ‘I don’t want a boring movie.’ And this period of time was the most active and entertaining.”

The turnout shows how younger audiences easily identify with the timeless music from the artist who died in 1981.USA Today reports that Bob Marley: One Love outperformed Marvel’s Madame Web which resulted in one of the lowest debuts for a Marvel superhero film. “It was across all generations. It wasn’t just a movie for an older audience that grew up with Bob Marley’s music,” Paramount distribution chief Chris Aronson told USA Today. “Our highest quadrant was (age) 18 to 24. A third of the audience was under 25. That, to me, speaks volumes.”

Bob Marley at His Peak

The movie hinges on a tumultuous yet enlightening boiling point in Bob’s life, kicking off with the attempted assassination of Bob and his wife in 1976: On Dec. 3, 1976, seven armed men stormed his home and shot both Bob and his wife as payback for local leaders who tried to politicize him. Bob and his band self-exiled themselves to England where they recorded Exodus. It comes full circle as his triumphant return to Jamaica that was fully realized in a single concert.

Just a few months before this assassination attempt, Bob Marley sat down with High Times and wound up on the Sept. 1976 cover.

‘It’s time to let de people get good herbs an’ smoke,” Marley told High Times. “Government’s a joke. All dey wan’ is ya smoke cigarettes and cigar. Some cigar wickeder den herb. Yeah, man, ya can’t smoke cigar. Smoke herb. Some big cigar me see man wit’. God bless! Me tell him must smoke herb.” 

“Me fin’ it hard to get in England,” explaining how the herb in England was inferior to Jamaica’s.

“I feel like ya ‘ave thousands of different types of herb. If when ya plant it, if ya meditation not high, it don’t come like de right type of herb.” You can read the interview in its entirety here.

Tuff Gong, House of Marley, and Others Celebrate

Island Records and Tuff Gong announced the release of Bob Marley: One Love (Music Inspired By The Film), an EP with covers of Bob Marley songs by contemporary artists: Daniel Caesar, Kacey Musgraves, Wizkid, Leon Bridges, Jessie Reyez, Bloody Civilian, and Skip Marley, grandson of Bob.

“The mission is always to spread Daddy’s music to every corner of the Earth, and we were very thoughtful in handpicking these artists,” said Cedella Marley, who was involved in the release of the Bob Marley: One Love EP. “Having his songs rebirthed at the same time we get to show the world his story through this movie, is something that my family and I are extremely proud to be a part of.” 

House of Marley, the sustainable audio brand crafted in collaboration with the Marley family, released a turntable to celebrate the release of the film. However, House of Marley only released 250 units, beginning last Valentine’s Day.

The releases mark the release of one of the few films to aim at telling his story. Bob Marley: One Love cost $70 million to produce and is expected to exceed that in sales very shortly.

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