EXCLUSIVE: It’s back to the drawing board for a director on the untitled movie about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury that Graham King‘s GK Films is making at Sony. King has quietly parted ways with British actor-turned-helmer Dexter Fletcher, who got the job after directing the musical Sunshine On Leith. I’ve heard that the two didn’t see eye to eye on what will be an R-rated pic about Mercury, who’ll be played by Ben Whishaw. I’m told the actor is still firmly in place but their hope to keep production on pace might be optimistic, given that Whishaw is booked for the next James Bond picture. Whishaw stepped in after Sacha Baron Cohen dropped out in what has been a struggle to get the film just right before starting production.
They went as far as starting soft preproduction on a film that was skedded to begin shooting in the summer. I had heard that perhaps Sony was wavering, but the studio adamantly denies it. They hope to keep close to that start date and name a new helmer shortly. With the band’s songs part of the package, the pic will tell the formative coming-of-age story of the group, culminating in Queen headlining Live Aid in 1985 and not on Mercury’s death on November 24, 1991, of complications from AIDS. Script is by Peter Morgan and King’s producing with Tim Headington and Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions, and Queen Films. Among the tunes that are in the rights package are “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions,” “Another One Bites The Dust” and “You’re My Best Friend.”