The Hollywood Reporter offers an update on three American films that buzzed like a beehive at the Cannes Film Festival, but have distribution issues. Why? Here’s our take, with details on all three movies:
:: Steven Soderbergh’s Che
Soderbergh’s biography about revolutionary Che Guevara is enormously challenging: It’s built as a two-part film experience clocking in at 4 hours, 18 minutes. It’s in color and black-and-white, with two different aspect ratios. It’s in Spanish. Variety’s Todd McCarthy called it “defiantly nondramatic.” On the easy plus side, it stars Benicio del Toro, who won Best Leading Actor at Cannes.
The reported $65-million production has yet to find a distributor, with four offers out there. Soderbergh’s plan: Release both parts of Che as one movie in December, in very limited release. Then release the film wider in 2009, with Part I, The Argentine, in January and Part II, Guerilla, in February. Soderbergh has that rare career mixing the ultra-commercial (Ocean’s Eleven series) with more artistic fare (Full Frontal, Bubble) and Che certainly appears to be the latter.
:: James Gray’s Two Lovers
Gray (We Own the Night, The Yards) assembled Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw and Isabella Rosselini for this drama about a suicidal guy (Phoenix) caught between two women: one he loves, the other loves him. The film is not easy, nor are its views of relationships and emotions.
Although Two Lovers wasn’t snapped up, it should do just fine. It’s owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban’s 2929, who decided to self-distribute when a few offers for the film came in around the $1-2 million range. Remember, Wagner and Cuban (the first-ever person to comment at Meet In the Lobby, by the way) own a ton of distribution options including theaters, on-demand and DVD.
:: Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York
The post-modern screenwriter’s directorial debut is the success story of the three: it’s been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, who’ll release the film this fall. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as — what else? — a playwright with a ridiculously ambitious idea. At Cannes, Synecdoche enjoyed a standing ovation and glowing reviews… but that don’t mean a thing when distributors are gun-shy about movies whose earning potential is not immediately apparent.
And that’s the general reason each of these films wasn’t acquired while everyone was still in France: The economic woes have hit the film industry too. So Brendan Fraser can enjoy nearly back-to-back releases for Journey to the Center of the Earth and the umpteenth Mummy movie (nothing against Mr. Fraser), but audiences looking for something intellectually different may have a tough time finding this trio of films.
We’ll report on the new Disney / Jerry Bruckheimer film soon. I’m not kidding.
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