One of the many, many projects linked to Sacha Baron Cohen over the past year or so was a biopic of legendary Queen singer Freddie Mercury. Boasting a script by Peter Morgan ("The Queen"), the project has the approval of the surviving members of the band who will act as producers on the film. The story will focus on the earlier years of Queen, leading up to the band's 1985 Live Aid concert -- one that salvaged their reputation after the band broke an anti-apartheid boycott and played gigs in South Africa. "I didn't want to write an AIDS movie, to be honest with you. And then, I just looked at the period — it's sort of where he rejects [the other members of Queen] and comes back to them. It's sort of like a family movie. It's sort of like I hate my family, I want to be independent, and then I come back," Morgan said about the script last year.
Well, it appears development is moving forward as Brian May and Roger Taylor recent spoke to Queen Online (via Collider) and gave an update on the project, telling the site, "Work is now fully under way for the much-vaunted feature film on the life of Freddie. Peter Morgan has delivered a first draft of the movie, which everyone is very excited about, and Sacha Baron Cohen is chomping at the bit to get into the role, in a way which certainly would delight Freddie ! The whole team now working on preparing for a shoot later this year, and a release in the late Autumn of 2012."
It's certainly a dream project for Cohen who first enlisted Morgan to write the screenplay, and all the song licenses have already been cleared but it does raise an interesting question: what's going on with "The Dictator"? That film, which caused a bidding frenzy between studios and earned Cohen a massive payday of $20 million against 20% first-dollar gross, was said to be his next film after "Hugo Cabret" with Martin Scorsese. The film, described as a cross between "Coming to America" and "Trading Places" would find Cohen playing both a goat herder and a deposed foreign dictator who gets lost in the United States, and the film has Larry Charles in line to direct. Theoretically, it could go in front of cameras this spring and there wouldn't be a problem, but talk has grown quiet around the $65 million comedy (a big price tag particularly from a studio that recently penny-pinched "Anchorman 2" to death) and we're wondering if it has stalled for now. Guess we'll have to see how this all plays out.
As for Queen, the Freddie Mercury biopic isn't the only thing brewing. May and Taylor also confirmed that a big screen version of the highly successful musical "We Will Rock You" (yes, based off the song) is also in the works. "We are also laying the foundations for WWRY THE MOVIE, and again, we already have a great script for it from Ben [Elton],” the duo said. So if you're a Queen fan, lots of good times ahead.