Earlier this week, The Atlantic published a long expose about Bryan Singer, the director of The Usual Suspects, X-Men, and Bohemian Rhapsody. After years of rumors about Singer’s behavior and even some lawsuits, The Atlantic story, which had more than 50 sources, published numerous new accusations about Singer, including that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old extra on a movie set in the late 1990s.
Singer was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody near the end of production in 2017, and has not been present for any of the film’s awards run, including awards ceremonies and press obligations, even as Bohemian Rhapsody won the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. With Singer persona non grata from the film he directed, and especially after The Atlantic story, it’s been largely expected that his directing career may very well be over.
But perhaps it’s not. The producer of the in-development film Red Sonja, to which Singer has been attached since last year, announced Thursday that Singer will continue as director of the film.
“I continue to be in development for Red Sonja and Bryan Singer continues to be attached,” producer Avi Lerner said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “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. 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.”
The statement is somewhat odd, in that it credits Singer with the box office success of the film from which he was fired. Bohemian Rhapsody is also not, by any conceivable measure, “the highest grossing drama in film history”; it’s still far behind Titanic, whose worldwide gross was over $2 billion, per Box Office Mojo. And furthermore, Lerner is stating his intention to bring someone onto a film set who has now been credibly accused of more than one instance of sexual abuse that has taken place on film sets.
The Trump effect on full display here from Avi Lerner. https://t.co/nPSlYcmQu9— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 24, 2019
Red Sonja is an adaptation of a Marvel Comics character — one who is herself a survivor of sexual assault. The film adaptation has been in development for many years, now under the auspices of Millennium Films, a movie entity controlled by Lerner. Singer was announced as the director last fall. There’s been no announcement of casting, but the film is scheduled to film in Bulgaria this spring, per the Hollywood Reporter.
Lerner has himself been accused of sexual misconduct, with a 2017 lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff had been “subjected to a discriminatory, harassing and misogynistic work environment, hostile to female employees,” Deadline reported at the time. Lerner dismissed the allegations as “all lies.” In addition, actor Terry Crews testified before Congress last year that after he accused agent Adam Venit of sexual assault, Lerner leaned on Crews’ manager and asked him to drop the case, Deadline said. This caused Crews, he said, to drop out of The Expendables 4, which Lerner produced.
Lerner is the owner of the company producing the film, but if Singer remains as director, the film could run into trouble if cast and crew refuse to work on it, or if moviegoers refuse to see it.