Skip to main content

Home Film Film News

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ screenwriter sues producers over alleged unpaid profits

20th Century Fox claims the Freddie Mercury biopic left them $51m in the red

By Joe Goggins

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ made a loss of $51 million, despite a mammoth box office haul, according to 20th Century Fox.

The Oscar-winning Freddie Mercury biopic, a commercial success upon its 2018 release, is at the centre of a legal dispute between its screenwriter, Anthony McCarten, and producer Graham King and his production company, GK Films.

McCarten is suing King over an unreceived five percent of GK’s backend profit, which he claims he had an agreement for. The production company have shifted the blame onto Fox and its parent company, Disney.

Fox’s argument is over what constitutes “defined net proceeds”, with them claiming that they are not obliged to pay if the film made a loss of more than $51 million. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ grossed $911 million on a budget of around $50 million.

The case would appear to be the latest example of creative accounting by a major Hollywood studio. In 2005, Peter Jackson sued New Line Cinema over their handling of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’s revenue, which he claimed deprived him of millions of dollars he believed he was owed.

In 2010, meanwhile, Warner Bros. used net profit accounting to claim that ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ had ultimately cost them $167 million, despite it bringing in $938 million at the global box office.

McCarten is presently working on a script for Sony’s Whitney Houston biopic ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’, which is slated for a December 2022 release. In August, Queen guitarist Brian May suggested that a sequel to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a possibility.