Director Bryan Singer hasn’t been involved with the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” for over a year, but with a fresh exposé alleging that he sexually assaulted minors and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts “suspending” his nomination, will he be the film’s Oscars Achilles heel?
“Bohemian Rhapsody” has had a lifetime’s worth of trials and setbacks on its 10-year journey to the big screen. And yet despite everything working against it — from Singer’s surprise firing mid-production for absences and clashes with the cast, to the negative reviews right before its release — it seems to have come out of the fires unscathed.
The $50 million productions became a global box-office phenomenon, grossing over $209 million in North America alone and over $834 million worldwide to become the most successful musical biopic of all time. It developed into a top awards contender too, winning the best drama and best actor for Rami Malek at the Golden Globes, while also receiving two key Screen Actors Guild nominations, a Producers Guild nod and five Oscar nominations, including best actor and best picture.
But then on Jan. 23, almost exactly a month before the Oscars and one day after its nominations, The Atlantic magazine published an article in which four men claim they were sexually abused by Singer while underage. Singer has denied the allegations. A representative for Singer declined to comment further for this article.
The next day, the advocacy group GLAAD removed the film from its Media Awards nominees, and four days later, “Bohemian Rhapsody” lost the coveted SAG ensemble award to “Black Panther.”
“I think that it would have won SAG ensemble if it hadn’t been embroiled in controversy,” said Sasha Stone, founder of the blog Awards Daily.
The SAG voting period ended on Jan. 25, two days after The Atlantic article published. As if a precursor to what might happen at the Academy Awards, Malek walked away with his own acting prize.
This week, just days before the British Academy film awards, BAFTA announced that Singer’s nomination suspension because the alleged behavior was “completely unacceptable and incompatible” with its values. The film, however, will still compete Sunday for the Outstanding British film award, among others.