Elton John has revealed that he had to fight the studios to make sure that Rocketman depicted an R-rated version of his life story. Following on the massive success of last year's Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which has taken in an astonishing $903 million worldwide, pop star Elton John will see his own story hit the big screen with Taron Egerton in the lead role. But hopefully if John's movie hits it big, he will have more luck collecting on the spoils than Queen reportedly have had.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher (who incidentally also worked on Bohemian Rhapsody for a short time after Bryan Singer's departure), Rocketman depicts Elton John's rise from humble beginnings to become one of the biggest music stars in the world. Of course, John lived the rock star lifestyle to the fullest, and that aspect of his story will indeed be depicted in the film. The movie is also set to tackle John's personal life, and includes a gay sex scene that at one point Paramount reportedly wanted to cut from the film.
Thanks to director Fletcher, Rocketman's sex scene stayed in the film, and that scene is not the only one that helped the movie earn an R rating. As John himself explained to The Guardian, it was important to him to keep in the R-rated elements of the story even though it could hurt the film's box office. John actually had to fight studios for years to get the film made his way, but ultimately won out and got the relatively warts-and-all Rocketman he was hoping for. John said:
Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating. But I just haven’t led a PG-13 rated life. I didn’t want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s, so there didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company.
The issue of Rocketman's gay sex scene took on greater urgency of course after Bohemian Rhapsody notoriously toned down Freddie Mercury's bisexuality. It seems John was not interested in toning down any aspect of his life in order to earn a more family friendly rating, which should result in a more honest and raw depiction of his story. Musical biopics are of course very popular, but most of the time they water down the more potentially problematic aspects of their subjects' lives in order to avoid alienating fans who perhaps would rather remember their favorite stars in a less controversial light.
Rocketman indeed differs from Bohemian Rhapsody in several ways, the biggest one being the fact that star Egerton does his own singing, resulting in a film that has been described as more of a musical fantasy than a straight biopic. It remains to be seen if the Rocketman approach to John will go over as big as Bohemian Rhapsody, which in addition to making almost a billion dollars worldwide, also garnered an Oscar for star Rami Malek.
Source: The Guardian
- Rocketman (2019) release date: May 31, 2019