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Taron Egerton and Richard Madden as Elton John and John Reid in Rocketman

It’s not often that two music icons who rose to fame in the same era and have inspiring stories to tell get their turn at a big screen moment. Then there is Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. The two biopics have the common thread of having Dexter Fletcher behind the camera at one point or another, though they take two different stances on the stars’ sexual identities.

Bohemian Rhapsody was a massive success that both garnered awards attention and earned over $900 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing music biopic of all time. However, some had one gripe with the Queen celebration: how it censored and “straight-washed” Freddie Mercury’s sexual identity. The producers chalked the choices up to intending to tell the story to a wider audience.

As Hollywood passes the microphone over to the tale of Elton John in Rocketman, the movie has taken an an R-rated approach that doesn’t shy away from gay sex scenes and the musician’s past drug use, including the movie being framed around his stint in rehab. However, rumors had emerged prior about the studio’s intention to cut a nude scene between Taron Egerton’s John and Richard Madden’s John Reid.

Director Dexter Fletcher shot down the whispers, confirming that the movie would be loud and proud about all aspects of Elton John’s life. Now, Richard Madden is also speaking out about the importance that all aspects of his life be seen. In his words:

It’s an intimate thing between these two characters and a significant moment in Elton’s life. And Elton’s life was very R-rated, wasn’t it?

Why censor a life as bold as Elton John’s has been? In Richard Madden’s interview with EW, he said it would have been a disservice to the star if the love scenes he shot with Egerton had been cut. John Reid was Elton’s first manager and a lover of his for a time, and is an important part of the film’s story.

If discussions had been made over cutting the nude and gay content in Rocketman, the reason was certainly over the opportunity of reproducing Bohemian Rhapsody. The music biopic’s box office success could have certainly benefited from a PG-13 rating, but when you think about it, most Queen fans are over 18 years old, and the same goes for those of Elton John. Considering the target audience is mature enough to see an R-rated film, why not go that extra mile to do these legends justice - and the LGBT community they represent.

Rocketman has a bit of a disadvantage to Bohemian Rhapsody because it’s opening right as the summer movie season kicks off, while the Queen film had less competition to go in with. The upcoming fantasy musical will debut at $20 to $25 million behind with Godzilla: King of Monsters this Friday, tracking at $50 million. Rocketman has impressed critics so far, who seem to like it better than Bohemian Rhapsody overall.

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