UPDATED at 8:05 p.m. Singer’s Fox offices shut down: Bryan Singer’s production company, Bad Hat Harry, will depart the Twentieth Century Fox lot. The director had a three-year first look deal with the studio that ended Oct. 31 and was not renewed. He was allowed to remain on the lot while finishing the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The production company began packing up today, with Singer’s removal from the film.
UPDATED with Singer’s statement: Bryan Singer issued the following statement regarding his removal from Bohemian Rhapsody, which he describes as a passion project. The director said he had asked Twentieth Century Fox for time off to deal with health issues — his mother is ill — but the film studio was unwilling to do that. He acknowledged creative differences with the film’s star, Rami Malek, but said they had managed to work things out.
“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. This was not my decision and it was beyond my control,” Singer said in the statement. “Rumors that my unexpected departure from the film was sparked by a dispute I had with Rami Malek are not true. While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving. I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honor the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first.”
UPDATED with Singer’s firing: To the surprise of no one, Fox fired Bryan Singer from the helm of Bohemian Rhapsody, after he went AWOL for three days last week when production was to resume after Thanksgiving. This followed a series of rumors of erratic behavior by Singer on the film.
Last week, sources said that Fox was discreetly canvassing directors to replace Singer, even before production shuttered. Rumors swirled this past weekend that the film will likely stay on hiatus until the new year, though Fox insiders said the hope is to resume before then. The film has about two weeks left in principal photography, and then the new director will oversee postproduction and possibly do some reshooting, so there is a lot of heavy lifting involved.
“Bryan Singer is no longer the director of Bohemian Rhapsody,” was the studio’s official statement today.
The studio fired Singer under the pay-or-play provision in his deal because of a pattern of behavior on the set that proved so unreliable that it was best to drop him because he had clashed with several people including the film’s star, Rami Malek.
Fox is hoping to keep the film on track for a December 2018 release.
PREVIOUS, December 1 PM: Production has been temporarily halted on Bohemian Rhapsody, the Bryan Singer-directed film about the British rock band Queen and its frontman Freddie Mercury, with Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek playing the singing legend. The studio has said the reason is a “health matter” involving the director.
There have been rumors surrounding Singer and the production for some time, including that film took breaks more than once because of the mercurial director going AWOL from the London shoot. Word I am hearing is that he hasn’t shown up for the past three days.
The studio issued this vague statement: “Twentieth Century Fox Film has temporarily halted production on Bohemian Rhapsody due to the unexpected unavailability of Bryan Singer.”
Singer’s reps later said in a statement: “This is a personal health matter concerning Bryan and his family. Bryan hopes to get back to work on the film soon after the holidays.”
Insiders said the studio still hopes to get the film on track for a December 25, 2018 release. The studio would not comment on how far along the production has gotten before Singer took this sabbatical, or whether the film will continue with him. Indications are the studio might wait for him to return.
It becomes very difficult when a film is in production and the filmmaker has proven unreliable. Word around town is that Fox has been having discreet discussions with replacement helmers to finish the film, even before the studio halted production today. Sources tell Deadline that the film is about two weeks away from completing principal photography, so if another director is brought in, he or she would need to finish the shoot and oversee postproduction.