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Elton John biopic Rocketman is the first major studio film to depict gay male sex

on May 16, 2019, 4:21pm

While it’s unlikely that the upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman will perform better at the box office than Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s historical significance on cinema will be far greater. That’s because, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Rocketman is the first major studio film to include gay male sex scenes.

Whereas Bohemian Rhapsody offered a sanitized, PG-13 retelling of Freddie Mercury’s life, Rocketman proudly flaunts John’s sexuality. The film, which premiered at Cannes on Thursday, includes multiple scenes involving simulated sex between John (played by Taron Egerton) and his first gay lover, music manager John Reid (played by Richard Madden).

It marks the first time a major studio release has depicted such content, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Films such as Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain and Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name were released under specialty labels and never marketed to a broad audience. The Paramount-backed Rocketman, however, will open on thousands of screens when it hits theaters in the US on May 31st.

Paramount reportedly debated internally whether to include the most graphic sex scenes, but ultimately decided that it should “be the no holds barred” film that filmmaker Dexter Fletcher and John originally envisioned. As such, Rocketman will likely be prohibited from screening in China, where such content is disallowed. (Before screening in China, Bohemian Rhapsody cut out scenes of drug use and Rami Malek’s Mercury kissing other male characters.)

Watch the trailer for Rocketman below:

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