Bryan Singer will likely make about $40 million from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ backend

Bryan Singer is all smiles after dinner at Craig's in West Hollywood

Over the past month, I’ve argued at times (to varying degrees) that Rami Malek should not be punished for Bryan Singer’s crimes. Singer directed most of Bohemian Rhapsody, got fired for cause, then was replaced. Rami Malek had a big role in getting Singer fired, although Malek didn’t get him fired for any of the lawsuits or accusations of rape and assault. No, Malek got Singer fired because Singer was massively unprofessional and Singer threw something at Malek. As I said, I’ve argued that Malek should not be punished for Singer’s issues. But now that it looks like Rami Malek is the favorite for the Best Actor Oscar, I just think… maybe let’s not do that? There’s a difference between “don’t punish Rami” and “giving an Oscar to an actor who was directed by Bryan Singer.” There’s a wide chasm in between those two things.

I have to believe that other studios’ Oscar campaigns are subtly knifing Bohemian Rhapsody every way they can too. Rami didn’t make it easy on himself when he claimed that he was was “not aware” of the accusations against Singer, and it’s making me very uncomfortable to hear Rami repeatedly use the ghost of Freddie Mercury to deflect from pressing questions. I also have to believe that a rival studio dropped this exclusive to the Hollywood Reporter:

Director Bryan Singer is set to earn tens of millions of dollars off the massive success of Bohemian Rhapsody, despite being fired from the movie mid-production and surrounded by controversy. Thanks to a track record of years of hitmaking (including the X-Men franchise) and what is said to be a strong backend provision in his deal, Singer’s final payday for the Freddie Mercury biopic is expected to exceed the $40 million range, two knowledgeable sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Singer was fired from Rhapsody with only two weeks of shooting left on the movie for not showing up to set. Dexter Fletcher was then hired to complete the film with producer Graham King and others. But since Singer retained his director credit, he is likely in line to receive backend compensation. Sources say Fox, the studio that co-financed and released the movie, is exploring its legal options in terms of its financial obligations to Singer.

To the surprise of even its own studio, Rhapsody endured the Singer ouster and middling reviews to become a massive hit, grossing a fat-bottomed $817 million worldwide to date. While Singer’s upfront pay on Rhapsody is unknown — his up to $10 million fee for Sonja will be a career-high — Singer likely negotiated a percentage of profits after the $50 million movie broke even, as well as box office bonuses at various milestones. But this is where it gets complicated. Backend could be forfeited if a director is fired for cause (studios reserve the right to fire over creative differences). Singer was indeed fired….but he retained credit, thus ensuring some sort of contingent compensation, according to top dealmakers who work with directors and producers. A negotiated resolution in this case was likely, say sources, but that would have been before Rhapsody became an $800 million box office behemoth.

[From THR]

I mean, this isn’t a good look, but it’s also not something that was decided a few days ago. Singer likely had an ironclad contract, and considering the way the Directors Guild had his back about the film credit, I would say the chances are pretty good that the studio will decide that it’s cheaper to pay Singer what he’s owed contractually rather then duke it out in court. Still, $40 million is some kind of major “go away, rapist” payoff.


Photos courtesy of Backgrid, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

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27 Responses to “Bryan Singer will likely make about $40 million from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ backend”

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  1. Krakken says:

    I will definitely pirate that shit.

  2. French girl says:

    All his victims must sue him in justice. Take him all his money .

  3. Rapunzel says:

    This is why the whole film should have just been shelved once sh*t hit the fan. But awards and $ are more important than giving extra cash to a predator.

    • Myrtle says:

      It’s also a great movie – have you seen it, Rapunzel? And not just a movie, but a tribute to Queen, a group who has legions of fans (I’m not one, although I enjoy some of their songs), many of whom through the years could be considered marginalized people. Queen and many of their fans have dealt with tons of controversy and challenge, much of it stemming from homophobic hate, which makes Bohemian Rhapsody an important film for advancing the cause of marginalized people and queer culture along with boosting up the Queen legend, such as it is. And Bryan Singer is a monster who deserves to rot in hell. Good that he got fired, and gross that he still gets paid (can’t any of that $$ be revoked?) but none of this means the film should have been shelved. Let the film stand alone, along with its award-winning performances. Why punish Queen & associates because an asshole with a contract worked on their movie? Is that really justice?

      • Mia4s says:

        “Why punish Queen & associates because an asshole with a contract worked on their movie?”

        Because it’s now been shown that Brian May and other surviving Queen members were the ones who pushed to hire the accused child rapist? Pretty good reason.

        “It’s also a great movie”

        It’s nice that you think that in your personal opinion but I’d also point out that the reviews are crap and several prominent LGBTQ writers have condemned its content. I take their opinion over yours. Everyone has an opinion. Yes I know it made money…Transformers 3 made far more money than it and that was crap. Nothing of what you wrote justifies anything that in any way supports an accused child rapist. Bohemian Rhapsody’s success is sad, absolutely sad.

      • Suzy Schettler says:

        I completely agree Mrytle! The people who worked hard on the movie, doing their jobs, should not be punished for the actions of someone that they had no control over being involved. Why should all these people just making a living be punished for the behaviour of a jerk that was hired without any consent or input from them?! If someone at YOUR place of business was known to be a sexual harasser, should you be fired or condemned for working there? I doubt any of them personally agreed with what he was doing, but they weren’t the ones with any power. Get mad at the studio that hired him and ignored or didn’t investigate the rumours, not the others who were hired to work on the movie, or the result of their work.

      • Angelo says:

        Myrtle & Suzy – comments like yours make me sick. How bout that Rami Malek LIED? Are you LGBT? Cause my gay ass is TIRED of ppl saying the cast, who sure as hell knew about Singer’s history, signed on anyway. My mind is so blown the whataboutism being thrown around justifying Malek winning. RAMI MALEK LIED. But thanks in advance for supporting him win! His win = Bryan Singer’s win, and if you can’t see that as reality, then I don’t know what to tell you.

        Malek lied. He’s going to win an oscar. And Bryan Singer will get to use

        ‘From the director of Academy Award Winning Bohemian Rhapsody’

        Ya’ll who support dodger & bad liar Malek, Brian May who last week yelled about Singer being innocent until proven guilty at one of his fans, it’s all SICKENING

      • Milla says:

        I am a massive fan. Freddie and Queen have been part of my life since i was like 2. My family adores Freddie. But i do not care about this movie.
        It is all over the place, some things are missing- some are simply false, i’d rather watch old live videos.
        The one good thing is that it made new fans of old Queen. But it will always be connected to this freak. And considering how Freddie wanted to live private life, he would hate this mess. And he wouldn’t work with that creep, remember that he left Jackson and did not want to work with him.

  4. SequinedHeart says:

    Ugh he should not be getting this $40 million dollars. I realize he has a contract and there is fine print to adhere to in his favor but it grates me that these perverts have a golden parachute to disappear with when their victims get nada.
    I don’t know how I feel about Rami getting an Oscar in this specific situation. It’s not his fault but like… the academy should keep distance from a rapist. I dunno. I just can’t get past him getting paid still. If you get fired 2 weeks before Christmas for sexual harassment, you don’t get a Christmas bonus. So why doesn’t it work that way in Hollywood?

    • molly says:

      I understand that he’s entitled to this $40M paycheck, but that man better never, ever work again. That’s what I’ll be mad about.

  5. minx says:

    Oh, I’d bet it’s an ironclad contract and he’ll get his money.
    I read that Mary Austin will also get $40 million.
    And I don’t think Academy voters are going to not vote for Malek because of Singer. I just don’t. Also, his closest competition seems to be Christian Bale, who, while admired, is probably not universally beloved.

    • French girl says:

      It is not as if Rami was the best in his category.Give the Oscar to Cooper or Dafoe or Mortensen if they think Bale is enough likeable or Cheney is not enough likeable.

      • minx says:

        None of the other men have won any of the awards so far. I’m not stating my preference one way or another, I’m saying what I think is going to happen. The SAG award was a big indicator because that Best Actor has matched up with the Oscar Best Actor for the last 13 or 14 years.

    • maisie says:

      And you’ve hit the nail on the head: Malek is extremely well-liked by his actor peers as well as being admired for his great acting ability. They’re the ones who vote for the acting Oscars (just as the other categories are voted on by directors, cinematographers, composers etc). You’re right; Bale is admired but not loved.

      As for Singer, everyone in Hollywood has known about his crimes for decades (just as everyone knew about Weinstein, Spacey, Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, Louis CK, that guy from Pixar, etc) but as the prevailing wisdom there is “Money talks, nobody walks,” no one gives a crap about their victims. They’re expendable; there will always be many others to take their places. But big money-making talent is rare, and even if it’s housed in a monster, Hollywood won’t let go.

  6. Mia4s says:

    And just to be clear, there are usually additional bonuses when a film gets nominated for and then again if it wins an Oscar. Just sayin’ . Nice work Academy! 🙄

    People can say it was that they “didn’t want to punish the others who worked on the film” all they want. The reality is you rewarded accused child rapist Bryan Singer…handsomely. The key grip and script supervisor got their paycheque, and that’s it. They don’t benefit from the movie being a hit. Accused child rapist Bryan Singer and the people who hired him benefit.

  7. SM says:

    I don’t even understand what the hype about BH is. From the clips I saw of the movie, it looks cheap and awful. The kind of thing a director who is sloppy and doesn’t care.

  8. Hoopjumper says:

    The Atlantic piece mentioned that the studio didn’t want Singer to direct, but the surviving members of Queen did. Has anyone seen anything about why?

    • Tiffany says:

      May and Singer are pretty tight and Singer was alright with rewriting history for this film to make it seem that Freddie was the problem and they were the savior.

  9. Tiffany says:

    This is one of the many reasons I wanted this film to bomb.

  10. Wasabi says:

    He better saves his pennies for the rainy days. Because I hope Hollywood and movie goers keep canceling him until the day he dies.

  11. rrabbit says:

    As the movie is commercially successful, Singer has earned the millions he will get for it.

    I’m hoping that all that money then ends up going to his victims.

  12. xdanix says:

    Sickening. Just sickening. THIS is why the claims of “he got fired, it’s not his movie” and “its success is actually a slap in the face to him” etc were ALWAYS complete BS. NO. Bohemian Rhapsody is 100% Bryan Singer’s movie. Its success IS his success. And anyone who can STILL ignore that is just lying to themselves at this point.

  13. Helen says:

    are you freaking kidding me

  14. SM says:

    Also all this mess just confirms to me that the rest of Queen don’t give a shit about Freddie. It took them this long to make the story about him and honor his memory. The entire Central and Eastern Europe transitioned to democratic rule and now is falling back into authoritarian and populist rule for God’s sake that for Queen to make a story about Freddie. Then, I am sure any talent of Hollywood would love a chance to make this story, but they chose this scumbag. I know in their heads they are Queen despite the fact Freddie is gone, but the truth is they are nothing without Freddie. Makes me think how he must have felt being in that band, as it seems they lack any respect for him.

  15. Malana says:

    Thanks a lot people who saw and paid for this film – you’re just helping keep Bryan Singer’s career alive. And some people were BRAGGING about how many times they saw it. Unreal.

    This film’s success = Bryan Singer’s success. It’s that simple. If Malek wins the oscar, that success is Bryan Singer’s success also.

    Malek told a blatant lie. Dismissive, indifferent lie. All because he wants that oscar. It’s so messed up. I hope karma haunts everyone involved. And to the people championing the film and making excuses – shame on you. Blood on your movie ticket, blood on your hands, all belonging to Singer’s HUNDREDS of victims.

    You have lined his pockets, greenlit his future – and greenlit more victims.