Fox Replaces Fired Director For Queen Biopic

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Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor flank Bryan Singer in an uncredited photo posted August 31, 2017 on Queen’s Facebook page

Earlier this year, the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, was greenlit by its studio 20th Century Fox, its cast was selected and director Bryan Singer was chosen to helm the movie. Filming was well underway when things went topsy-turvy following the Thanksgiving break as Singer failed to return to the London set. On Friday (Dec. 1), production was halted “due to the unexpected availability” of the director.

On Dec. 4, the studio fired Singer, releasing a terse statement: “Bryan Singer is no longer the director of Bohemian Rhapsody,” reportedly due to his regular no-shows on-set.

Singer responded later that day, saying in part: “With fewer than three weeks to shoot remaining, I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services.”

Singer also addressed rumors that he and actor Rami Malek, who plays Freddie Mercury in the picture, didn’t get along. “While, at times, we did have creative differences on set,” he said, “Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving.”

On Dec. 6, with expenses of an active film set accruing, British actor-director Dexter Fletcher was hired to replace Singer and finish the picture. Fletcher, who helmed 2016’s Eddie the Eagle, has appeared in HBO’s Band of Brothers and the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Singer has directed and/or produced many Hollywood blockbusters including numerous titles in the X-Men series, as well as The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie.

At the time of Singer’s selection, Queen wrote on their website: “If you’ve ever seen Singer’s X-Men films, or the groundbreaking movie The Usual Suspects, you’ll know this is a director with extraordinary imagination and style. A perfect choice to recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid.” A set recreating Live Aid’s set-up at London’s Wembley Stadium has been built specifically for Bohemian Rhapsody.

Rami Malek (TV’s Mr. Robot) portrays legendary Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury; Ben Hardy (X-Men: Apocalypse, Mary Shelley, Only the Brave) plays Roger Taylor; Gwilym Lee (The Hollow Crown, Jamestown) plays Brian May; Joe Mazzello (The Social Network, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) plays John Deacon. Lucy Boynton (Murder on the Orient Express) stars as Mercury’s lifelong companion, Mary Austin.

The film takes its name from Queen’s 1975 masterpiece. The classic rock song became the band’s biggest single, reaching #1 in the U.K. for nine weeks (though it inexplicably peaked at only #9 in the U.S. up on its initial release).

Related: Queen film “Bohemian Rhapsody” video

Filming began in September. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the film’s cinematographer, Thomas Newton Sigel, has occasionally filled in during some of Singer’s unexplained absences. Bohemian Rhapsody is slated for U.S. release on December 25, 2018. Queen’s May and Taylor are listed among the film’s producers.

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