How Editor John Ottman Helped Rescue ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – Podcast

Bohemian Rhapsody
20th Century Fox

What a difference a year makes.

After news broke last December that Fox was firing Bryan Singer as director on Bohemian Rhapsodyfrom the outside looking in, it didn’t appear as though things were going well for the Freddie Mercury biopic.

Michael Buckner/Shutterstock

However, when it comes to executing his vision on-screen, Singer has continually surrounded himself with sublime below-the-line talent, and Ottman is a longtime collaborator who he’s worked with going make to their indie filmmaking days on such ’90s fare as the short Lion’s Den, and the Sundance Film Festival features Public Access and the Oscar-winning The Usual Suspects. And the editor doesn’t just put films like X-Men together, he typically composes the score as well, making him an anomaly in the industry (who actually does both on major studio films?).

Ottman catapulted Bohemian Rhapsody across the finish line with producers Graham King and EP Denis O’Sullivan. He worked the film into such fine shape, that before Dexter Fletcher stepped in to finishing directing on the film, Fox was so blown away with a first cut that they moved Bohemian Rhapsody out of its Christmas day debut to the first weekend of November. The spoils have been through the roof: The New Regency/GK Films production blew away its $35M stateside opening weekend projections and debuted to $51M and has already sang past the $300M mark at the global box office.

What was key for Ottman? That final Live Aid concert sequence. He had to get that right in order for Bohemian Rhapsody to work, a finale he calls “The Death Star” sequence. Ottman, together with DP Newton Thomas Sigel, have created a concert movie that puts you squarely in the sweat and fever of Mercury’s onstage energy, moments which rival those in Warner Bros.’ Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga country rock drama A Star Is Born. Also, Rami Malek’s uncanny turn as Mercury –the dance jumps, the mic stand jousting and the lip syncs– are also part of Ottman’s fingerprints.

Here’s our first Crew Call of awards season 2018-19 in which Ottman expounds on the editing for Bohemian Rhapsody. 

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