As someone who spends plenty of time trolling the coming soon calendar for our seasonal previews, I’ll see many films that look intriguing, but are pulled at the last minute by their distributor. Or worse — they end up like “The Marc Pease Experience,” a Ben Stiller-Jason Schwartzman comedy that has seen release dates come and go and that’ll finally be dumped into a handful of theaters in cities other than New York and L.A. this Friday by its now-defunct specialty label Paramount Vantage.
Over at The Playlist, director Todd Louiso (of “Love Liza”) explains that the film was hit hard by the double whammy of the 2007 writers’ strike and the subsequent shut-down of Vantage. The result is that his comedy became a red-headed stepchild for parent company Paramount, despite the presence of Stiller and a music/high school premise that seems as timely as this week’s release of “Bandslam.” (Plus, if you couldn’t tell already, we were excited to see Anna Kendrick.)
This got me thinking about other movies that share the “Marc Pease” predicament. Here are a few and their last known whereabouts, though who knows if they’ll ever see the light of day.
Ben Stiller’s not the only A-lister to have a movie on the shelf. Matt Damon’s part of the ensemble of this Fox Searchlight drama that stars Anna Paquin as a student dealing with the aftermath of a bus accident she may have caused. “Margaret” appears to have been postponed indefinitely after becoming the subject of court battles in the three years since it wrapped production in 2005, according to an April L.A. Times article. After a visit to the editing room, Martin Scorsese was said to have called a 2006 edit of the film, “brilliant, a masterpiece,” but apparently “You Can Count on Me” writer/director Kenneth Lonergan hasn’t been able to finish editing and with a “final cut” clause in his contract, there’s no end in sight.
Lionsgate made a show of their commitment to Russell Crowe last week when they signed the “Body of Lies” and “State of Play” star to a Paul Haggis drama despite his recent box office flops. Yet they’ve been strangely mum about a thriller that Crowe made for them two years ago called “Tenderness,” based on a Robert Cormier’s novel about a detective responsible for locking up an 18-year-old for murder who becomes less certain of his guilt. (You can watch the trailer here.) While the film’s opened in most of the English-speaking world, it’s had an on-and-off relationship with the U.S. release schedule that now appears to be off.
No one’s quite sure how much of a film David O. Russell got in the can before the Screen Actors Guild stepped in and shut down production on his adaptation of Kristin Gore’s satire “Sammy’s Hill,” with Jessica Biel as a receptionist-turned-political crusader who’s hit with a nail to the head in a bizarre workplace accident and takes her cause to a congressman (Jake Gyllenhaal). The work stoppage came as a result of the money woes of Capitol Films, the film’s financier and the parent company to the now-defunct ThinkFilm. Though the production suffered through a few more fits and starts, Biel confirmed with the Orlando Sentinel back in May that it’s “unfinished.” With Russell now hard at work on his next film, “The Fighter,” for Paramount, it seems it might stay that way. Now, if only someone could figure out what to do about ThinkFilm’s hold on Michael Winterbottom’s drama “Genova,” with Catherine Keener.
“The Maiden Heist”
Most of the now-bankrupt Yari Film Group slate has found a home on DVD — we’re looking at you, “Assassination of a High School President,” finally coming out on October 6th. But this comedy starring Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy as museum guards who plot to keep their most beloved artwork when the gallery decides to change exhibits flirted with a May 29th release date, only to abandon it and never be heard of again. A similar thing happened to the Uma Thurman romantic comedy “The Accidental Husband” the year before… and it still hasn’t been released in the U.S., though it’s available on DVD in England. Granted, the latest from “Garfield” director Peter Hewitt isn’t likely to be a work of art, but we’d hate to think of a Christopher Walken performance premiering on home video.