Bryan Singer hasn’t been having a great year.
His relationship with Fox has soured a lot recently – ever since the release (and subsequent critical bashing) of “X-Men: Apocalypse”, a director who had once been one of 20th Century Fox’s most beloved darlings has been suffering from studio pressure.
Singer was kicked off directing duties for “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” pretty early in the movie’s development, and now things have gotten worse for the poor guy, as Fox has severed ties with his production company, Bad Hat Harry, ordered his entire team to leave their studio lot, and has removed Singer from “Bohemian Rhapsody”, a Freddie Mercury biopic that Singer has described as his “passion project”.
So, all in all, it’s not been a good year, but what makes things worse is the reason that Singer was fired from “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Apparently, with just three weeks of shooting left on the movie, the director requested additional time off over the Thanksgiving period in order to spend time with his incredibly sick mother.
Fox refused to halt production on the movie, so Singer went AWOL, not showing up for work for three days after Thanksgiving, before returning to finish the movie.
This is one of those movies that deserves a movie about its creation – it’s a rare case of a lot of things going tremendously wrong as personalities clashed and Singer’s existing baggage as a director was used against him by a studio that had lost interest in his particular talents.
Rumor has it there were also “creative differences” between Singer and the movie’s star, Rami Malek, although Singer insists that the two patched up their differences and managed to work together to make the movie.
In theory, this should have all been wrapped up before too long, but instead, Fox has decided to burn their bridges, dramatically damage this movie, and sever all ties with Bryan Singer and everyone he employs.
So, if that was the best case scenario for Fox, what else was going on during this movie’s filming that we don’t know about?
After all, the story of Singer wanting to care for his sick mother and therefore asking for just a few days off to do so sounds bad for Fox. It makes the studio look vile, uncaring, and downright evil. If they were willing to risk getting this kind of bad press, they must have genuinely have run out of patience with the production of this movie.
Perhaps there’s an air within Fox of impending doom. Rupert Murdock’s media empire is looking to sell off its cinematic wing, and all of the executives involved in a boardroom level are gearing up for big change.
It would make sense for many of these executives to want to cut their losses and tie up as many loose ends as possible in anticipation of the coming sale. Or, alternatively, they might be eager to make an example of one of the studio’s biggest names in order to keep all other productions on-track out of fear.
After all, a biopic about Freddie Mercury is hardly an “X-Men” movie – this isn’t a big summer blockbuster, and the studio doesn’t need the movie to be ready promptly for a summer release. Three days wouldn’t have rocked the boat at all, and this film really isn’t worth spending additional money to hire a new director to finish the project with three weeks remaining.
If Fox wants to complete the movie, they’ll have to get Singer back – as he’s shot the majority of the film, by law he gets to dictate the movie’s final edit. Either Fox reshoots a large chunk of the movie with a new director to make use of a legal loophole (as Ron Howard did with “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, or, more likely, the studio merely buries this entire project in their archive, and tidies up shop in anticipation of a coming merger.
Presumably, more has gone on behind the scenes that we’re not currently privy to, but this whole ordeal points to two possible insights into business at Fox right now.
Firstly, this implies that Fox is ready to ditch any director, no matter how well established, if they step out of line even slightly.
Second, it suggests that the studio heads at Fox have just stopped caring, and they don’t mind if they burn their company to the ground before the Walt Disney corporation gets their hands on all of the studio’s assets.
Either way, this all sucks for Bryan Singer. Here’s hoping his mom feels better soon.