UPDATE: The Academy announced today Queen + Adam Lambert will perform at the Oscars. The original article, which was published when the band reportedly turned the offer down, follows.
Surviving members of Queen reportedly turned down an opportunity to open the Oscars with a performance of a song from Best Picture nominee Bohemian Rhapsody. For the first time in 30 years, the Academy Awards are happening without a host. Back in December 2018, Kevin Hart was hired for the gig, but he shortly dropped out after becoming embroiled in controversy surrounding homophobic tweets and comments from his past. There was a possibility Hart could have returned, but any chances of that were eliminated following a heavily-criticized interview on Ellen that portrayed Hart as the victim of an Internet smear campaign.
Rather than finding a replacement, the Academy intends to move forward host-less, calling upon a rotating cast of A-listers to introduce the broadcast's various segments. Unsurprisingly, producers are eyeing several Avengers actors to participate, but they're hardly the only big names to receive offers. With the Academy searching for an opening act, they called upon one of the world's most popular musical acts to get the festivities started.
According to Variety, the Academy reached out to members of Queen to gauge their interest in performing an opening number at the Oscars. Unfortunately for producers, the band turned it down. No reason has been given at this juncture.
Late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, of course, is the subject of Bohemian Rhapsody, so it isn't surprising the Academy explored this option. In addition to being one of the eight Best Picture nominees, the film may actually take some gold home since Rami Malek (who played Mercury) is the favorite to win Best Actor this year. At the same time, the optics of a Queen performance would be unideal for the Academy, which has (putting it mildly) endured a down year. This proposed opening would only serve to draw more attention to Bohemian Rhapsody, which is 2019's most controversial Best Picture contender due to the new sexual misconduct allegations against director Bryan Singer. It's arguably better for everyone involved Queen passed.
With only a few weeks remaining until the Oscars ceremony (as of this writing), the Academy is running out of time to put something together and it'll be interesting to see how things play out. While it's understandable producers would want to make a big splash with a star-studded opening, perhaps keeping things simpler would be the smarter way to go. Since the Oscars are all about celebrating the best in film from the past year and the Academy loves montages, the show could begin with a supercut of memorable scenes and moments from the 2019 nominees. That might set the proper tone and help ease viewers into what'll be a different kind of experience.
Update Source: The Academy