‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Writer Settles Lawsuit Over Profit Sharing

Anthony McCarten ended his legal battle over his share of the Freddie Mercury biopic’s $911 million global box office

Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury in Twentieth Century Fox’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
20th Century Studios

Anthony McCarten, a screenwriter on the blockbuster “Bohemian Rhapsody,” has settled a lawsuit filed against producer GK Films. He alleged that he had not seen his share of profits after the Oscar-winning Freddy Mercury biopic earned $911 million at the global box office. The writer moved to dismiss the suit on Oct. 31, in documents TheWrap has obtained, while the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.  

The two-time Academy Award nominee, for “Darkest Hour” and “Theory of Everything,” received the sole “screenplay by” credit for the film. Under his deal with GK Films, the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2021 claimed, he was entitled to “[a]n amount equal to 5% of 100%” of net proceeds, which was defined as the company’s standard definition.” 

However, McCarten claims he has received no profit-related revenue from the picture, while accounting statements issued by 20th Century Studios show a $51 million deficit on the film. The plaintiff took issue with the computation of net proceeds under the studio’s standard definition as opposed to GK Films’. Distribution fees, which were typically deducted, allegedly ate away at his share.   

As previously reported in TheWrap, the suit said that “all of McCarten’s Contingent Box Office Bonuses paid out” due to the film’s historic box office success. Despite this, the suit says, Fox repeatedly informed McCarten that the film was in deficit. The suit speculated that GK Films never had a definition of “net proceeds,” and that it did not “have any intention of developing such a definition, because it had no intention” of figuring out what McCarten was owed at all. 

While Fox (currently known as 20th Century Studios following their new ownership under Disney) was not named, the lawsuit named GK Films alongside a California-based company called WGAW, Inc. The complaint alleged that the company had a Santa Monica address that also serves as contact information for GK Films.  

“Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that GK Films transacts business through WAGW, shares offices with WAGW, employs the same employees and officers, and has the same principal,” the suit claimed. “Accordingly, in doing the acts alleged herein, WAGW, Inc. was acting as the agent, principal, employee, or alter ego of GK Films.” 

The suit accused GK Films of breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and what amounts to shady accounting.  

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news of the settlement.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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