20th Century Fox has announced that X-Men director Bryan Singer has been fired from the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek as famed frontman Freddie Mercury.

“Bryan Singer is no longer the director of Bohemian Rhapsody,” a spokesperson from 20th Century Fox said in a statement.

This comes after an extended absence from Singer, that resulted in a production shutdown. Production in England was halted on Friday, after Singer was “unexpectedly unavailable” for several days, an official statement has said.

“Twentieth Century Fox Film has temporarily halted production on Bohemian Rhapsody due to the unexpected unavailability of Bryan Singer,” the studio explained in an earlier statement.

Trouble began when Singer went missing during production on several occasions. However, The Hollywood Reporter has also made specific mention, in a new story, of tension between the director and Malek. The actor had reportedly complained to the studio about Singer’s unprofessional behaviour and unreliability – and while the growing tension between Malek and Singer did not become physical, it did at one point involve Singer throwing an object.

The director had been warned before production began by both Fox Film Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider, and Fox Film Vice Chairman and President of Production Emma Watts that they wouldn’t tolerate unprofessional behaviour on his part, and a Directors Guild of America representative also arrived on set to monitor the situation.

However, Singer denied acting unprofessionally, claiming the studio refused to allow him to attend to “a gravely ill parent” as well as to his own health.

“I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honour the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen,” he said in a statement, “but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first.”

Tom Hollander, who is playing Queen manager Jim Beach, is also said to have briefly quit the film due to Singer’s behaviour, but was, according to one source, persuaded to return.

In the absence of the director, cinematographer Thomas Newton Sigel has stepped in to direct. As yet, a replacement director has not been announced.

When Singer boarded the project, he described his vision for it as something the entire family could enjoy, “It’s won’t just be the dark Freddie story, but that being said, that [aspect of him] also will be honoured. […] I would be remiss not to. There’s a way to do it – without getting into the specifics of how I’m doing it – which has been discussed among all participants and we feel it’s being honoured, but at the same time, it’s about the music.”

At the moment, Bohemian Rhapsody is still slated for release on December 25th, 2018 in the US, and December 28th, 2018 in the UK.

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