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The Bob Marley Marketing Miracle

bob marley: one love
Bob Marley: One Love is also an example of how films not squarely aimed at young white men can achieve economic success through clever marketing tactics. Photo: Chiabella James / Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
Scott Mendelson
February 25, 2024

Bob Marley: One Love, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, just topped the charts for the second weekend in a row and brought its global box office to $120.6 million. The movie is now on pace to top out at $185 million, plus whatever it earns in the handful of Asian territories (Japan, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan) still on the docket. Unless it plays closer to Bohemian Rhapsody ($115 million in Japan, $75 million in South Korea, etcetera) than Elvis (around $5 million total in those six territories), Marley is looking at an over/under of around $200 million worldwide—pretty good for a $70 million Jamaican musician biopic.  

On some level, perhaps this isn’t a total surprise. Bob Marley was a world-famous cultural icon who died prematurely in 1981. The music-focused biopic has been a theatrical winner since before Covid. Also, despite conventional wisdom, live-action musicals are also often winners (from Moulin Rouge to Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables, La La Land, and recently, Wonka). But Marley is also an example of how films not squarely aimed at young white men can achieve economic success through clever marketing tactics.