Rami Malek’s Bohemian Rhapsody Facing Shocking Lawsuit Over Lost Millions

Rami Malek's Bohemian Rhapsody is facing a huge lawsuit!

By Michileen Martin | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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How can you lose millions even when you’ve clearly made hundreds of millions? That’s a question that may very well be addressed in a courtroom some time in the near future, because it’s central to a new lawsuit involving 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody which starred Rami Malek as the late Freddie Mercury. One of the film’s writers is claiming he still hasn’t been paid his fair share for the movie, while the studio claims that — in spite of the film being declared the highest-grossing biopic of all time within weeks of its theatrical release — Bohemian Rhapsody lost $51 million, so there’s nothing to pay the writer with.

Deadline broke the story yesterday, saying that Bohemian Rhapsody co-writer Anthony McCarten has filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against GK Films, one of the Rami Malek feature’s production companies. McCarten claims he was guaranteed 5% of whatever GK Films made off the feature. Meanwhile, GK Films turned that deal over to Fox which is now owned by Disney. McCarten claims that once Fox took over the deal, they changed the terms of what the screenwriter was owed.

That’s where things begin to get complicated. Deadline explains that Fox, and other studios, often use the questionable practice of creating their own standard definitions for “Net Proceeds.” In short, they change the definition of what profits are and are not. So, while in April 2019 Deadline Hollywood estimated that — after achieving the staggering worldwide gross of $911 million — Rami Malek’s Bohemian Rhapsody earned a net profit of $350.8 million, Fox applied what McCarten calls “arbitrary, onerous distribution fees, administrative fees, overhead fees, etc.” At the end of the new calculation, we get what Fox calls “Net Proceeds,” which the studio claims puts Bohemian Rhapsody in the red for $51 million. Since McCarten’s compensation was based on profits and Fox claims the movie lost money, the studio says they don’t owe the writer anything.

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Deadline points out that McCarten’s lawsuit is not the first time creative talent have been seen themselves allegedly cheated out of money in this manner Deadline brings up the example of Eddie Murphy using the term “monkey points” to describe Paramount’s use of what Murphy saw as accounting acrobatics to claim 1988’s Coming to America had lost money even though it grossed $350 million. Likewise, in 2010 Deadline broke the story that when 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix scored a worldwide gross of $938 million, Warner Bros. was claiming it had lost $167 million.

While GK Films turned the deal over to Fox, McCarten says his lawsuit is currently aimed at GK Films because that is who he made the initial agreement with. Deadline reports that GK Films says Fox/Disney should be “a party to this action,” and that they intend to consult with the studio soon.

Named for the iconic song first performed by the rock band Queen, 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody took home four Oscars in 2019, including Rami Malek’s win for Best Actor. It was even nominated for Best Picture, in spite of just barely avoiding the hated green splat status on Rotten Tomatoes with a 60% rating. In August, Queen guitarist Brian May said there is talk of a sequel in the wind.