To be filed in the “Took them Long Enough” news file is reports coming out of a Hollywood Reporter feature on the recent Charlotte Kirk scandal that Red Sonja producer Avi Lerner and Millennium Films have finally dropped Singer as the director of a new movie based on the character first introduced in Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comics in 1973.
In January, a feature in The Atlantic described a number of sexual encounters Singer had with minors over the past 20 years dating back to The Usual Suspects. These allegations were nothing new as Singer has been dealing with these issues going back to before his return to the X-Men franchise with X-Men: Days of Future Past when Singer was sued for sexual assault by two individuals in April 2014. Singer was even featured in Amy Berg’s documentary An Open Secret about Hollywood child predators that same year.
Singer was fired from the Oscar-nominated Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody mid-production for other reasons, but he still received the sole directing credit. He wasn’t thanked once at the Oscars last month when the movie won four of the prestigious awards.
Last year, Singer was announced to direct Red Sonja just as Fox were getting ready to release Bohemian Rhapsody, and that announcement took many by surprise because it seemed to be another case of a white man in Hollywood failing upwards.
For a few weeks after the allegations, producer Avi Lerner continued to back his choice in director, but in the Hollywood Reporter story, there’s a paragraph in regards to Lerner’s dealings with Kirk that mentions the producer finally caved after first backing Singer’s hiring after The Atlantic story:
“Lerner made news recently when he hired Bryan Singer to direct a reboot of Red Sonja. After Singer was accused in an Atlantic magazine article of sexually assaulting underaged boys, Lerner dismissed the story as “agenda-driven fake news,” then walked the statement back. Eventually, he dropped Singer from the project because he was unable to secure a domestic distributor.”
So there you have it. Money talks and… well, you probably know the rest.
With Lerner finally dropping Singer from the project, the once-respected director is probably going to find himself in a similar boat as Brett Ratner (who oddly, replaced Singer on X-Men: The Last Stand) and Singer’s long-time friend and collaborator Kevin Spacey where no one smart will hire them even if the latest allegations are settled out of court.
There was a previous Red Sonja movie all the way back in 1985 when Brigitte Nielsen played the title character in a film directed by Richard Fleischer, which was spun-off from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian movie. Over the past ten years, there have been a number of attempts to bring the character back to the screen with Robert Rodriguez being one of the primary players to direct.
Despite all the problems, the Red Sonja movie should still happen eventually as the character continues to be popular thanks to several series published by Dynamite Entertainment since 2005. The character was created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith for Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian series in the ’70s, based on a number of Robert E. Howard characters. She was given a spin-off series soon after being introduced. (Oddly, Marvel has just revived the character in the comics this year, although one presumes the rights to Red Sonja will remain with Dynamite.)
Edward Douglas has been writing about movies and other forms of entertainment for over 25 years, so he’s probably older than you.