Rocketman, Paramount’s Elton John musical, is expected to be rated R and will include an intimate love scene between Taron Egerton, who plays the English singer, and Richard Madden, who plays John’s former manager and lover, John Reid, two sources close to the film tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Director Dexter Fletcher is in the midst of editing the film, which is slated for release in the U.S. on May 31 and in the U.K. on May 24, and produced by John’s husband, David Furnish. After a Daily Mail story reported that Paramount is pressuring filmmakers to cut at least part of the scene, Fletcher tweeted, “Seeing much speculation about ROCKETMAN!! That’s good! It’s still unfinished so it’s nothing but rumors. It has and always will be the no holds barred, musical fantasy that Paramount and producers passionately support and believe in. See for yourself May 24. Dx x.”
Paramount test screened Rocketman last week in Pasadena, according to a source, and received scores in the high 80s for the $40 million film, a promising sign for an unfinished musical that grapples with some challenging themes, including John’s drug addiction. The movie also includes scenes from the singer’s childhood as a student at the Royal Academy of Music, his friendship with writing partner Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and his acceptance of his sexuality.
According to one source close to the production, filmmakers and Paramount are in discussions about the love scene, which has the F-word several times and includes brief rear nudity, and someone snorting cocaine.
Fletcher’s last assignment as a director was stepping in for the last three weeks of principal production on Bohemian Rhapsody after Fox fired director Bryan Singer. The producers’ decision to release the Queen biopic as a PG-13 film which spent little time on singer Freddie Mercury’s sexuality was controversial among some film critics. Bohemian Rhapsody went on to earn $879 million at the worldwide box office and four Oscars.
From the beginning, Rocketman‘s producers, including Matthew Vaughn, envisioned it as a different and grittier film, with Egerton singing John’s songs live, and with the singer’s sexuality explored in depth.
Aaron Couch contributed to this report.