Anthony McCarten and Bohemian Rhapsody Producers Resolve Legal Battle Over Profits
The legal battle between Anthony McCarten, the esteemed writer of the critically acclaimed film Bohemian Rhapsody, and the film’s producers has finally ended after two years. On recent Halloween eve, a request for dismissal was filed, effectively ending McCarten’s November 2021 profits action against GK Films LLC and WAGW Inc., leaving many industry insiders curious about the undisclosed settlement or details. As Queen once sang, “Easy come, easy go, little high, little low.”
The lawsuit, filed by McCarten, revealed intricate details about the complex dynamics behind the scenes of the iconic Freddie Mercury biopic. Despite the film’s massive global success, grossing $911 million against a $55 million budget, accounting statements painted a dismal picture, with the movie supposedly in the red by $51 million. The convoluted legal battle took an unexpected turn as McCarten targeted the producer Graham King and GK Films, circumventing the involvement of the subsequent owners, Twentieth Century Fox and Disney, who acquired the studio post-production.
McCarten’s suit centered on a 5% profit-sharing agreement with GK Films, a deal that allegedly shifted when King transferred the rights to the film to Fox and Disney. The lawsuit underscored the lack of transparency in the entertainment industry, emphasizing the discrepancies between various definitions of “net proceeds” and the challenges writers face when negotiating their backend compensation.
Anthony McCarten’s Fair Compensation Pursuit
According to the 50-page filing, McCarten’s legal team sought not only monetary damages but also a comprehensive audit of the film’s financials and a definitive declaration of the contractual obligations between the parties. However, the defense presented a complex narrative, highlighting the evolving definitions of “net proceeds” and the subsequent ownership change, insisting that any payments due should align with the latest studio definitions, not the initial agreement with King’s company.
As one of the industry’s leading biographical screenwriters, McCarten’s portfolio boasts an impressive array of award-winning productions, including The Theory of Everything, The Two Popes, and Darkest Hour. With his upcoming project, the Whitney Houston biopic I Want to Dance With Somebody, in the works, this legal battle is a stark reminder of the challenges creatives face in navigating the intricate landscape of profit-sharing deals in the entertainment industry.
McCarten’s lawsuit sheds light on the perennial struggle for fair compensation in an industry notorious for intricate profit accounting, with studio-defined “net proceeds” often resulting in disputes and legal confrontations. Despite the dismissal of this case, the complexities of profit-sharing negotiations remain a crucial concern for creatives, underscoring the need for transparent and equitable agreements to ensure the fair treatment of artists and writers in the entertainment world.