The Gleaner: KINGSTON, Jamaica, By Yasmine Peru – “We expect this biopic to be a blockbuster,” said Melanie Graham, marketing manager and director of Palace Amusement Company.

With 10 days left to go, the countdown for the hottest movie ticket for 2024 (so far) can well and truly begin. Bob Marley: One Love, opens on February 14, “at a theatre near you”, as the folks in commercials would say, and it would seem that Jamaicans, who are known for their “last-minute” ticket-buying approach, are acting a bit out of character.

And that’s good, marketing manager and director of Palace Amusement Company, Melanie Graham, told The Sunday Gleaner.

“We are so far very pleased with the traction because traditionally we are last-minute (people) … the excitement and knowledge about the movie is quite high. Sometimes we have a film, not necessarily a blockbuster, but perhaps one with an Academy Award nominee and people call to ask ‘When is it opening?’ either after it has gone or when it has been in the cinema for two weeks,” Graham explained.

With the first Hollywood style premiere held in Jamaica on January 23 and the London premiere one week later, media around the globe are buzzing. And let’s not forget the welcome mat that was neatly spread out for special guests Prince Harry and Meghan Markle when they delightfully popped up at the Jamaican premiere, an appearance which sent the British tabloids in total meltdown to the extent that even last week Jamaica was trending.

It is significant that when the makers of the movie were looking for a February date to open in style, they friskily skipped past Bob Marley’s February 6 birthday and landed on the day carved out for love and lovers, Valentine’s Day. Some who have seen the biopic are enthralled by what they say is the love story of Rita and Bob which plays out in the sub plot of a film that his son Ziggy declares “is a movie about Bob that would share a more personal side of him”.

“The indication [from ticket sales] has been great and Valentine’s Day is one of our better days,” Graham said. “ Bob Marley: One Love will be showing in all our cinemas; we will be using three auditoriums at Carib 5; both at Cineplex and at Sunshine in three of four. There is no time limit on the showing.”

After the Jamaican premiere, Minister of Culture Olivia Grange declared that for Jamaica the Marley movie is “huge”. Graham, who has naturally seen the biopic is in total agreement.

“It is huge. There are not many people who don’t know about Bob Marley. His music is still relevant. He seems to have transcended his own passing. Bob almost took on a hero kind of persona with his music and his message. And … the music in the film is great,” Graham said, and held back, not wanting to give anything away.

She is also excited about another opportunity to showcase the island.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that a number of movies have been made in Jamaica. Jamaica is renowned for its beauty, foreigners are always fascinated by our culture and our hospitality, so hopefully we will get more business, more jobs and more money.”

In recognition of the importance of this film, Palace is pulling out all the stops “to give One Love its legs” even pushing back a bit the opening of another potential blockbuster. Graham is hoping that the momentum from the premiere will keep building, and that looks like a real possibility. Hard on the heels of Jamaica’s successful premiere came the London event, which has also been attracting quite a bit of press.

On January 30 news agency, Reuters’ headline declared ‘Bob Marley biopic brings his message to new generations, son says’. It saw them interviewing Ziggy Marley and Kingsley Ben-Adir (who plays Bob Marley) and even dishing a little on the film.

“The movie opens in Kingston in 1976, with Marley planning a peace concert in response to deep political divisions and violence. It sees the musician moving to London after both he and Rita survive an assassination attempt and recording the hit album Exodus. Flashbacks offer insight into Marley’s childhood and youth.”

Other headlines online state: ‘Wizkid, Idris Elba, Sabrina Dhowre Elba & Lashana Lynch Step Out for Bob Marley: One Love Premiere in London’ and ‘All the glamorous looks from the premiere of Bob Marley: One Love’., in their story about the premiere has some cool quotes from Ziggy and his brother Rohan Marley.

“Kingsley [Ben-Adir] did a great job. I mean, it surprised everybody!” said Ziggy Marley, adding, “When we premiered it in Jamaica last week … Jamaican people loved him so I think that says it all.”

“Jamaicans are the biggest critics of anything, you know. They always have something to say, so when they say something is good, it’s really good,” laughed Rohan.

The producers have said just how important the Jamaican premiere was to test the temperature, and clearly they are delighted about this seal of approval.

Quizzed about the profitability of biopics in general, Graham explained, “If the person is famous, biopics do well in the country of their origin. But with Bob, he was so well known and loved in just about every continent, so we expect this biopic to be a blockbuster.”

Not only is Marley’s music still relevant and sitting on charts globally 42 years after his May 11, 1981 passing, the fact that there are Bob Marley statues in Serbia, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and in Liverpool, England, are testament to the reggae icon’s stature around the world.

Director of the film, Reinaldo Marcus Green, told Empire Magazine in an interview: “After Jesus, he’s probably the most recognisable face on the planet! Bob is uniquely universal.”

Bob Marley: One Love is produced in partnership with the Marley family and stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, Tosin Cole, Anthony Welsh, Michael Gandolfini, Umi Myers, and Nadine Marshall.