Is the Queen Biopic with Rami Malek Really Happening?

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After years of fits and starts, public media squabbles, and numerous casting changes, the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek, is actually starting production, according to the legendary band. The group released a statement on their website on Friday, alerting fans that yes, “it IS finally happening.”

Director Bryan Singer (numerous X-Men films, The Usual Suspects) will helm the film—“a perfect choice to recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid, which we can reveal will be faithfully recreated for a key sequence the film,” the band gushed. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor will both serve as executive producers.

Malek, the Emmy-winning star of Mr. Robot, will play the late, legendary Freddie Mercury in the film; he is “completely living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful,” May and Taylor note in the statement.

The release also assures fans that pre-production will begin this week in the U.K., and principal photography will start in London “as soon as mid-September.”

Despite the confidence of the statement, fans still have some reason to doubt the veracity of these start dates, considering all the ups and downs this film has suffered. The biopic has gone through numerous iterations, starting with a version that was supposed to star Sacha Baron Cohen and went into development in 2010. The actor dropped out of the project a few years later due to creative differences. In an interview with Howard Stern last year, Cohen revealed that he just didn’t see eye-to-eye with May and Taylor—he wanted to focus on the band’s wild rock ‘n’ roll past, while May and Taylor wanted to focus on Queen’s legacy and post-Mercury career (the singer died in 1991). The duo also nixed many of Cohen’s director choices, he says, like Oscar winners David Fincher and Tom Hooper, as well as screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon).

In a follow-up interview, May disputed Cohen’s claims, saying the comedian “became an arse.”

“We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas, but he went off and told untruths about what happened,” he said. “Why would he go away and say that we didn’t want to make a gritty film? Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth? I don‘t think so.”

Since Cohen left the film, actors like Ben Whishaw have floated up as potential replacements, but nothing ever came to fruition. The band’s statement is the strongest they’ve put out in years in regards to the film—but considering its torturous route to theaters, fans have reason to remain cautious and ask themselves two questions: Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?

Do you have what it takes?Test your knowledge of the Seven Kingdoms with Vanity Fair’s Game of Unknowns.Make your predictions

Full ScreenPhotos:15 Hollywood Movie Reboots That Took Forever to Come to Life

Scarface

It’s not often that a remake becomes more popular than the original, but that’s what happened with Brian De Palma’s bloody reimagining of this gangster tale, starring Al Pacino as cocaine kingpin Tony Montana. Now most people think of the iconic black-and-white poster, or a gun-toting Pacino screaming, “Say hello to my little friend!” before they think of the original 1932 film. Universal has since tried to recapture the magic with yet another remake, but every attempt has fallen apart. Most recently, director Antoine Fuqua has left the project, though Diego Luna has signed on to star and the Coen brothers have agreed to tackle a potential script. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

Photo: From Universal/Everett Collection.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The staggeringly popular crime thriller about a Swedish journalist and a goth computer hacker got the American adaptation treatment by director David Fincher in 2011, starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Though it was an Oscar-nominated blockbuster hit and it seemed like common sense for the studio to adapt the next book in the franchise, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Sony never got around to it. So the property sat there, dwindling away . . . until this year, when it was announced that horror director Fede Alvarez would take on a different book in the franchise, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, and give the story the old soft-reboot treatment.

Photo: By Anders Linden/Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection.

Mary Poppins

It’s been decades since Julie Andrews first sauntered down on that umbrella, singing about spoonfuls of sugar. The 1964 Disney classic about a magical nanny has captured many an imagination since then, but the original has remained untampered. Until 2015, anyway, when it was announced that the studio would make a sequel of sorts titled Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, to be released in 2018.

Photo: Left; from Everett Collection, Right; from Flynet Pictures/Splash News.

Splash

This 1984 rom-com is a comedy classic and was one of the first roles that propelled Tom Hanks to blockbuster stardom. While it spawned a forgettable sequel, it’s been ripe for the reboot picking for years, with Channing Tatum and Jillian Bell announcing last year that they plan to give it a whack. Bell recently told Vanity Fair that they had to jump through hoops to get the green light, but hope to shoot their version with Disney next year.

Photo: From Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection.

Top Gun

The adventures of Maverick (Tom Cruise) and his air-bound gang first flew over volleyball nets and into theaters back in 1986, quickly becoming a film classic. Rumors of a sequel have abounded for the last decade, but came to a screeching halt in 2012 when original Top Gun director Tony Scott committed suicide. The idea has since slowly picked up steam once more, with Cruise finally declaring this year that Paramount is fast-tracking a new sequel, titled Top Gun: Maverick, set for a 2019 release.

Photo: From Paramount/Everett Collection.

Blade Runner

The sci-fi classic starring Harrison Ford has only grown larger in the collective pop-cultural imagination since its release in 1982. As such, the industry has hungrily tried to tap back into that power for years, with ill-fated sequels failing to come together until finally, a worthy challenger appeared: director Denis Villeneuve. Starring Ford and Ryan Gosling, Blade Runner 2049, which is being billed as a sequel to the original, is hitting theaters this October.

Photo: Left; from Warner Bros./Everett Collection, Right; Courtesy of Alcon Entertainment.

It

Tim Curry’s iteration of Pennywise the Clown has been terrifying children for decades, a particular type of long-lasting fear that Hollywood would like to tap into once more. After decades of false starts, Warner Bros. has succeeded in reimagining the Stephen King classic for the masses, with the glossy remake set to hit theaters on Sept. 8.

Photo: Left; from Everett Collection, Right; by Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment.

<em>Scarface</em>

Scarface

It’s not often that a remake becomes more popular than the original, but that’s what happened with Brian De Palma’s bloody reimagining of this gangster tale, starring Al Pacino as cocaine kingpin Tony Montana. Now most people think of the iconic black-and-white poster, or a gun-toting Pacino screaming, “Say hello to my little friend!” before they think of the original 1932 film. Universal has since tried to recapture the magic with yet another remake, but every attempt has fallen apart. Most recently, director Antoine Fuqua has left the project, though Diego Luna has signed on to star and the Coen brothers have agreed to tackle a potential script. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

From Universal/Everett Collection.

<em>The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo</em>

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The staggeringly popular crime thriller about a Swedish journalist and a goth computer hacker got the American adaptation treatment by director David Fincher in 2011, starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Though it was an Oscar-nominated blockbuster hit and it seemed like common sense for the studio to adapt the next book in the franchise, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Sony never got around to it. So the property sat there, dwindling away . . . until this year, when it was announced that horror director Fede Alvarez would take on a different book in the franchise, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, and give the story the old soft-reboot treatment.

By Anders Linden/Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection.

<em>Mary Poppins</em>

Mary Poppins

It’s been decades since Julie Andrews first sauntered down on that umbrella, singing about spoonfuls of sugar. The 1964 Disney classic about a magical nanny has captured many an imagination since then, but the original has remained untampered. Until 2015, anyway, when it was announced that the studio would make a sequel of sorts titled Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, to be released in 2018.

Left; from Everett Collection, Right; from Flynet Pictures/Splash News.

<em>Splash</em>

Splash

This 1984 rom-com is a comedy classic and was one of the first roles that propelled Tom Hanks to blockbuster stardom. While it spawned a forgettable sequel, it’s been ripe for the reboot picking for years, with Channing Tatum and Jillian Bell announcing last year that they plan to give it a whack. Bell recently told Vanity Fair that they had to jump through hoops to get the green light, but hope to shoot their version with Disney next year.

From Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection.

<em>A Star Is Born</em>

A Star Is Born

A remake of a remake of a remake! A Star Is Born made its debut in 1954, starring Judy Garland as a young unknown just trying to make it in show business. Then it was reborn in 1976, starring Barbra Streisand as a curly-haired singing sensation. Fast-forward to now, and Lady Gaga is taking the title role, playing opposite Bradley Cooper (who is also directing) as an unknown, but with a twist—instead of standards and pop ballads, this star is trying to make it in the country-music world.

From left; from Everett Collection, from Everett Collection, from Everett Collection, Courtesy of Neal Preston/Warner Bros. Entertainment.

<em>Suspiria</em>

Suspiria

The witchy 1977 ballet film is a horror classic, one that studios have tried to remake for years. In 2008, David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) announced he had written a new version and wanted to start filming soon, but that film never came to fruition. Fast-forward, and now a reboot is being made with Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, and more, directed by Luca Guadagnino.

From 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection.

<em>Tomb Raider</em>

Tomb Raider

After Angelina Jolie became an Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning actress, the next step was box-office domination. Cue the Tomb Raider franchise, the duo of blockbuster films based on the archeology adventure video game of the same name. Jolie rode the wave to mainstream stardom, then left the massively popular films behind. The franchise has been looking for a new Lara Croft ever since. Now, 14 years later, Alicia Vikander is picking up the reins for the reboot.

Left; from Everett Collection, Right; by Ilze Kitshoff/Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

<em>The Crow</em>

The Crow

The 1994 comic-book adaptation is a cult classic, forever morbidly tied to the death of its young star Brandon Lee. (While making the film, he was fatally shot with a revolver that the props team hadn’t loaded correctly). Ever since the first movie’s release, execs have been trying to re-create the magic—most recently with the troubled Relativity Media spearheading a new version starring Jason Momoa. However, the project has since been stalled indefinitely and has since left Relativity for new producers and distributors.

From Miramax/Everett Collection.

<em>The Matrix</em>

The Matrix

The Wachowskis built a whole new world with this alternate-reality sci-fi trio of films, which launched in 1999 to the tune of $463 million worldwide. Two films later, and it officially became one of the most successful franchises of all time—so popular and complete that the directors have hissed away any requests for a reboot. That hasn’t quite stopped Warner Bros., which has reportedly been looking to make a prequel set in the same surreal world.

From Warner Bros./Everett Collection.

<em>Overboard</em>

Overboard

The Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy was essentially a flop upon release in 1987, but it’s since enjoyed a warm post-theatrical life, cast in a golden nostalgic light. Hollywood has tried to remake it for years—back in 2010, Jennifer Lopez was even attached to star. This year it was announced that Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez were set to star in a remake, and filming began this summer.

From MGM/Everett Collection.

<em>Jumanji</em>

Jumanji

Robin Williams made this book adaptation about a wild board game a hit in 1995, thanks to his classically zany performance. Sony has been itching to revamp it for years, but any plans seemed squashed after Williams’s death in 2014. The optics weren’t great a few years later when Sony announced a new iteration, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, starring Dwayne Johnson—but the film’s funny first trailer and fresh concept have since revved audiences up.

Left; from Columbia TriStar/Everett Collection, Right; by Frank Masi/Sony Pictures Entertainment.

<em>Hellboy</em>

Hellboy

The Marvel Comic adaptation starring Ron Perlman was a hit long before superhero movies became the all-encompassing genre of our time. The 2004 tale spawned a successful sequel, and fans waited breathlessly for a third installment for years . . . until director Guillermo del Toro shut their wishes down forever with a simple tweet this past February. Jump ahead a few months, and now Lionsgate is reportedly in talks to bring a new version of Hellboy back to the people.

From Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection.

<em>Top Gun</em>

Top Gun

The adventures of Maverick (Tom Cruise) and his air-bound gang first flew over volleyball nets and into theaters back in 1986, quickly becoming a film classic. Rumors of a sequel have abounded for the last decade, but came to a screeching halt in 2012 when original Top Gun director Tony Scott committed suicide. The idea has since slowly picked up steam once more, with Cruise finally declaring this year that Paramount is fast-tracking a new sequel, titled Top Gun: Maverick, set for a 2019 release.

From Paramount/Everett Collection.

<em>Blade Runner</em>

Blade Runner

The sci-fi classic starring Harrison Ford has only grown larger in the collective pop-cultural imagination since its release in 1982. As such, the industry has hungrily tried to tap back into that power for years, with ill-fated sequels failing to come together until finally, a worthy challenger appeared: director Denis Villeneuve. Starring Ford and Ryan Gosling, Blade Runner 2049, which is being billed as a sequel to the original, is hitting theaters this October.

Left; from Warner Bros./Everett Collection, Right; Courtesy of Alcon Entertainment.

<em>It</em>

It

Tim Curry’s iteration of Pennywise the Clown has been terrifying children for decades, a particular type of long-lasting fear that Hollywood would like to tap into once more. After decades of false starts, Warner Bros. has succeeded in reimagining the Stephen King classic for the masses, with the glossy remake set to hit theaters on Sept. 8.

Left; from Everett Collection, Right; by Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment.



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