As BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Hits Major Milestone and Scores Noms, Bryan Singer’s Dark Cloud Looms Large
Bohemian Rhapsody is a smash hit. The Queen biopic has been wowing crowds since its arrival on November 2, evident by the A CinemaScore they gave it and the insane box office numbers they’ve showed it with. The film has just achieved a major milestone, becoming the top-grossing musical biopic of all time.
This puts it above other past, beloved biopics like Ray, Straight Outta Compton, Walk The Line, and countless others. Domestically, the film has earned $180M+, and overseas it’s made a striking $455M+, for a worldwide total of $635,932,745. And it did all this on a budget of only a reported $52 million. But that’s not all.
It’s also garnering significant respect from the awards community, as it was announced two weeks ago that Bohemian Rhapsody is up for a pair of Golden Globes- Best Picture and Best Actor.
Yet you might have noticed that Twentieth Century Fox isn’t exactly beating its chest about the film’s success. It’s quietly dominating box office reports and continuing to find life through positive word-of-mouth from fans, yet you’re not seeing a huge promotional push for the film, and the reason for that may be that the studio knows they have a big problem on their hands:
Singer directed Bohemian Rhapsody, yet you’re unlikely to see that simple fact touted all that much. Ordinarily, with a film performing this magnificently, you’d see all kinds of hype and articles about what this means for its director. Yet Fox can’t push that angle, can they?
The director has been mired in controversy for years, and has developed a toxic reputation that has risked poisoning the well for some of the blockbusters he’s been tasked with bringing to the big screen. The one-time respected director of The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil, has had to keep a relatively low profile the last several years, despite directing huge films like X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse.
If you’re interested in the timeline of troubling allegations about Singer, dating all the way back to 1997, IndieWire has an exhaustive report on the matter that you can read RIGHT HERE.
The drama surrounding Singer reached a recent peak when he was actually fired from Bohemian Rhapsody late last year. Depending on who you ask, the reason shifts from on-set blowups between him and Rami Malek to general unprofessional behavior by Singer that saw the studio decide to complete the film without him, to the studio itself trying to distance itself from him amidst the rise of “#MeToo.” Dexter Fletcher was ultimately brought on to finish the film, but Singer remains the solely-named director.
This puts Fox in quite a predicament, because it’s the norm for a film’s director to be out and about doing press and campaigning for their movie whenever it’s up for prestigious Best Picture awards from establishments like the Golden Globes. Heck, the director is usually one of the folks asked to step up and accept awards for films that strike gold at these ceremonies.
Yet Singer is persona non grata, and you’ve got to imagine that a harsh spotlight is about to focus in on him in the months to come as reporters and outlets vet every aspect of Bohemian Rhapsody for entertainment news coverage. Up until this point, Singer has managed to avoid any real scrutiny for his alleged misconduct. In fact, he’s even been considered for major projects as recently as this past October, when it was reported that he’d nabbed a huge payday to direct Red Sonja.
It’s quite a mystery how Singer has managed to navigate through all of this and seemingly land on his feet, despite Hollywood- and most of North American pop culture- being in the throws of the “#MeToo” movement, which aims to expose and rid the entertainment industry of predators and predatory tactics.
One would have to think that the industry has done its own form of investigation into the serious allegations levied at Singer and have, to this point, decided he’s still worthy of a job. But a lot has changed over the course of the past year, as the court of public opinion has turned against folks like Kevin Spacey, Russell Simmons, Louis CK, and others amidst allegations just like the ones hurled at Singer.
So you’d have to think that, if there’s a piper to be paid, Singer will have to pay him soon. The spotlight on Bohemian Rhapsody, and the increased exposure on its polarizing director, is sure to bring some resolution to the matter of Singer’s reputation and his ability to continue to find work in the coming months.
I, for one, would be grateful to see some sort of final verdict reached on Singer. Is he the monster some say he is? Has he merely run in bad circles and been unfairly branded because of prejudice and unfair stigmas linking gay men to pedophilia? Will the smoking gun finally be unearthed that blows the roof off of this entire story? Or will we discover whatever it is that Hollywood has determined about him that entitles him to keep on working while similarly embattled peers of his have had to drop off the face of the earth?
I know it’s not the topic most are thinking of when they think of Bohemian Rhapsody and the acclaim it’s getting, but it’s arguably the most important conversation we should be having about it.
During this time, where “#MeToo” has become such a cultural calling card, there’s a massive shift taking place. Up to this point, you could argue that audiences have been perfectly fine with separating the art from the artist; They’ve been able to love and embrace works created by creators with giant skeletons in their closets, be they Michael Jackson, Joan Crawford, Woody Allen, or Roman Polanski. It’s always kind of just been “a thing,” to be able to say/act like, “Yeah, this person seems pretty gross or abusive, but I love what they create. So I wouldn’t go have a drink with them, but I’ll definitely check out their next project.”
Nowadays, that concept is being re-thought. And society will probably be better for it. But it makes situations like these, with Bohemian Rhapsody, all the more fascinating to follow as our culture tries to figure out how it wants to handle the “#MeToo” climate.
What do you think? Where do you fall when it comes to separating the art from the artist? Can you go back and watch an early season of House of Cards and still enjoy it, despite what you now know of Kevin Spacey? Can you dance along to “Thriller” at Halloween, despite the allegations against Jackson? Or do you think art created by controversial, possibly abusive creators should be shunned just like they are?
I’d love to know your thoughts.