Following Rami Malek’s Oscar win for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, there has been talk of a possible sequel. It’s not for certain, but stranger things have happened.
Here’s everything that’s been said so far about a second Queen movie, as well as possible plot lines the sequel could focus on.
Is there going to be a Bohemian Rhapsody 2?
Maybe. There have been reports that it could happen.
Rudi Dolezal, the director of many Queen music videos, recently said that there has been internal talk about a possible second film and that he expects the group’s legendary manager, Jim Beach, to back a second biopic.
Speaking to Page Six, Dolezal – who directed around 30 videos for the band and its members, including 1985’s ‘One Vision’ – said, “I’m sure [Beach] plans a sequel that starts with Live Aid,” adding that a sequel is now “being heavily discussed in the Queen family.”
The report also noted how “a pal of star Rami Malek’s told us they hadn’t heard of any talk about a new film” and a “rep for Queen’s record label told us they have not heard about any sequel”.
Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King, meanwhile, denied reports that there are no plans for another film.
However, when speaking about the first film in November 2018, Queen guitarist Brian May hinted that a second movie wasn’t out of the question, telling Classic Rock: “I think Live Aid is a good point to leave it. Who knows, there might be a sequel.”
Previously, Sacha Baron Cohen (who had originally signed on to play Mercury) claimed that Queen wanted Mercury’s death to occur in the middle of the film, with the focus of the second half on “how the band carries on from strength to strength”. Brian May responded by calling Cohen’s claims “complete bullshit”.
How does Bohemian Rhapsody end?
Bohemian Rhapsody concludes in July 1985 with the band’s iconic performance at Live Aid. The film shows HIV/AIDS spreading worldwide and Mercury revealing to his bandmates that he has contracted the virus. After reconnecting with his family, Freddie and the band then go on to deliver a showstopping set (performing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Radio Ga Ga’, ‘Hammer to Fall’ and ‘We Are the Champions’) at Live Aid, helping to raise money for AIDS charities in the process. The film finishes with a on-screen tribute to Mercury, who passed away in November 1991.
Brian May has explained the reasons behind ending the movie in 1985, saying in an interview: “I think there’s a natural culmination there. And that has pretty much always been the case, from the earliest scripts. We felt that was the pinnacle.”
He added of the Live Aid performance: “It was an amazing moment. And pretty much unexpected, because we were the last band to be booked on the bill, and it was all sold-out before we were even announced. So we knew it wasn’t a Queen audience, and we went on not expecting much, feeling a bit like the outsiders. To see that response was mind-blowing. And you’ll see that in the film – and from our point of view, too, which is what you can’t get from a documentary. You’re looking at a fantasy recreation, but it’s astonishingly real.”
What could happen in a Bohemian Rhapsody sequel?
Freddie’s final years
Of course, the most obvious focus of a second Queen movie would be Freddie Mercury’s tragic passing in November 1991. Although Bohemian Rhapsody depicts Mercury being diagnosed with AIDS prior to his band’s Live Aid performance, in actual fact it’s believed that he first found out about his diagnosis later, in April 1987.
With this altered timeline in mind, a sequel could followed Queen’s final tour, which concluded in August 1986 with the band playing to 200,000 fans at Knebworth, reconfigured to show (the semi-fictionalised) Mercury knowing that it will be his last live outing.
Mercury’s bandmates have stated that he wanted to record as much music as possible in his final years (he’s quoted as saying that he intended to “keep working until I fucking drop”), and a resulting film could focus on the band’s final two albums with Mercury: 1989’s ‘The Miracle’ and 1991’s ‘Innuendo’.
The film could also focus on the media speculation around Mercury’s illness – he frequently refuted questions surrounding his health and shocked fans when he appeared worryingly gaunt at the 1990 Brit Awards. The band’s music video for 1991’s ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ also sparked speculation among fans and the wider public.
Mercury eventually passed away at his home in Kensington, London on November 24. It came just 24 hours after issuing a statement confirming his AIDS diagnosis. Six months after his death, a tribute concert was held for Mercury, taking place at London’s Wembley Stadium in front of an audience of 72,000 and featuring acts including David Bowie, Elton John, U2, George Michael, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and more.
The making of Mercury
Bohemian Rhapsody starts with Mercury becoming involved with the London rock scene, but we get little of his earlier life. A second film could provide a prequel look at his early life growing up in Zanzibar (now Tanzania), being sent to a boarding school in Bombay (Mumbai) before he moved to London at the 18 due to the political revolution taking place in Zanzibar.
Mercury’s mother has said that it was in Bombay that he first showed his musical prowess: “He was quite happy and saw it as an adventure as some of our friends’ children had gone there. Right from the start, Freddie was musical. He had it on his mind all the time. He could play any tune. He could hear something and play it straight away.”
If Sacha Baron Cohen’s comments about the original idea for Bohemian Rhapsody focusing more on how Queen managed to reinvent themselves after Mercury’s passing, then this could be a focus of a second film.
Following Mercury’s death, the band were faced with the dilemma of how to replace such an iconic frontman. After bassist John Deacon quit the band in 1997, Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor went on to team up with Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers in 2004. Touring as Queen + Paul Rodgers until 2009, the collaboration ultimately divided fans, with their only studio album ‘The Cosmos Rocks’ (2008) receiving less than favourable reviews.
However, the same year that Queen stopped touring with Paul Rodgers also saw Adam Lambert audition for American Idol, performing two Queen songs (‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’). Queen performed with him in the Season 8 final, with Lambert eventually finishing runner-up. They would later tour as Queen + Adam Lambert from 2014 to 2018 to widespread commercial and critical acclaim.