Although the studio had initially thrown its full support behind Bryan Singer to direct the upcoming rebook of “Red Sonja”, the film has now reportedly been placed on hold.
According to Deadline, the studio behind the film, Millennium Media, now says “the project is not on the slate at the moment and is not for sale at the [European Film Market] in Berlin,” indicating it’s being placed on the back burner for the time being. Singer, however, is still reported to be attached to the project as director.
A day after The Atlantic published a bombshell expose including the allegations of four men claiming that director Bryan Singer molested them when they were underage, the studio behind Singer’s upcoming film initially offered its complete support.
According to The Hollywood Reporter in late January, Singer remained onboard “Red Sonja”, with the head of Millennium Media issuing a statement confirming that Singer is still director of the sword-and-sorcery movie based on the character from Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard.
“I continue to be in development for ‘Red Sonja’ and Bryan Singer continues to be attached,” read a statement from producer Avi Lerner to THR.
“The over $800 million ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has grossed, making it the highest-grossing drama in film history, is testament to his remarkable vision and acumen,” the statement continued. “I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise.”
As THR points out, the producer’s stance is “a surprising development” given the severity of the accusations. In addition, THR reports that “Red Sonja” is scheduled to begin filming in Bulgaria in the spring, and that Singer will be in line to receive a $10-million directing fee “if certain box-office milestones [are] met.”
While “Bohemian Rhapsody” scored five Oscar nominations, including nods for Best Picture and Best Actor for star Rami Malek, the Queen biopic will no longer be eligible for competition in the GLAAD Media Awards.
“In light of the latest allegations against director Bryan Singer, GLAAD has made the difficult decision to remove ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from contention for a GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Film – Wide Release category this year. This week’s story in The Atlantic documenting unspeakable harms endured by young men and teenage boys brought to light a reality that cannot be ignored or even tacitly rewarded,” reads a statement released by the LGBTQ advocacy group.
“Singer’s response to the story wrongfully used ‘homophobia’ to deflect from sexual assault allegations and GLAAD urges the media and the industry at large to not gloss over the fact that survivors of sexual assault should be put first,” the statement adds. “The team that worked so hard on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and the legacy of Freddy Mercury deserve so much more than to be tainted in this way. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ brought the story of LGBTQ icon Freddy Mercury to audiences around the world, many of whom never saw an out and proud lead character in a film or saw the impact of HIV and AIDS in fair and accurate ways.The impact of the film is undeniable.”
The statement concludes, “We believe, however, that we must send a clear and unequivocal message to LGBTQ youth and all survivors of sexual assault that GLAAD and our community will stand with survivors and will not be silent when it comes to protecting them from those who would do them harm.”
Singer responded to the accusations in The Atlantic‘s story in a statement he issued on Wednesday. “The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997,” said the director.
“After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism,” Singer continued. “That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”
Millennium Films CEO Avi Lerner responded by saying that he never read his controversial statement in which he defended Bryan Singer after agreeing to keep Singer as director on “Red Sonja”. Lerner told The Hollywood Reporter that his statement “came out the wrong way” when he said the story in the Atlantic was “agenda-driven fake news.”
Millennium Films, which produces more than 10 films a year, received immediate backlash after the controversial statement. Lerner, however, says he has not received any negative feedback from the industry: “Nobody called me, not from one agency. I got support by the head of the studio to say, ‘You stand by what you believe and people should be innocent until they are proven guilty.’”
Lerner did confess that his statement was handled the wrong way, but added, “I don’t want to apologize. I think victims should be heard and this allegation should be taken very, very seriously… I just don’t agree to judge by the Twitter, I want the accused to be judged by the court.”