Bryan Singer could reportedly make over $40 million from Bohemian Rhapsody, despite being fired as the film's director with two weeks left of shooting. The biographical film charting the rise of the rock band Queen and its charismatic lead singer Freddie Mercury has made over $800 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing musical biopic of all time.
Originally announced by Fox in 2010 with founding Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor heavily involved, the film that would become Bohemian Rhapsody was originally set to star Sacha Baron Cohen as Mercury, but Cohen finally bowed out due to creative differences. The film would later go forward with Rami Malek in the lead role and Singer as director, but Singer himself would ultimately be fired for being absent from the set and fighting with cast and crew. Dexter Fletcher would finish the film, but Singer would still receive sole directorial credit as per DGA rules.
With Bohemian Rhapsody cleaning up at the box office, and also garnering loads of accolades this awards season, fired director Singer is set for a major pay day. According to THR, Singer's payout could ultimately top the $40 million mark thanks to a huge backend provision in his contract. However, sources say Fox is pursuing legal options in hopes of not having to give Singer the full payment. As Singer was fired from the production, he normally would have to forfeit his backend compensation, but since he still received credit the situation is much more complicated.
Controversy surrounding Singer of course goes much deeper than his actions on Bohemian Rhapsody. The director has faced multiple sexual misconduct allegations over the years, beginning with an incident on his 1997 film Apt Pupil in which he allegedly traumatized several minors by forcing them to film a shower scene. Several lawsuits have been brought against Singer in recent years alleging sexual assault against minors, and earlier this month The Atlantic published a report in which four more men accused Singer of assaulting them when they were underage. In the wake of the latest allegations, GLAAD rescinded Bohemian Rhapsody's nomination for their GLAAD Media Award. Despite the allegations against him, Singer is still attached to direct the upcoming movie Red Sonja.
Despite the cloud of controversy around Bohemian Rhapsody due to Singer's involvement, the film has been a major player this awards season, garnering five Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture. Singer himself has been entirely absent from this year's awards show circuit, for obvious reasons, but he likely won't be too sad about that once he pockets the $40 million he reportedly has coming to him from his work on the movie. It remains to be seen if the producers of Red Sonja eventually change their minds and cut Singer loose rather than face backlash from his involvement in the film.