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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - When will Heath Ledger's last film be released?

We all know Heath Ledger won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his part as The Joker. However, what is going to happen to his final film? Apparantly it is still looking for a distributor. The Hollywood Reporter have a good article about it's fate and here is a bit of it.
A number of U.S. buyers during the summer and early fall were said to be interested in acquiring stateside rights -- Lionsgate and Overture were reportedly among the potential suitors -- but word of a potential deal quickly quieted down.

That has fueled all sorts of rumors in indie circles, ranging from dissent over finances on the producers' side to an extended and messy post-production session to outsized expectations on the part of filmmakers.

Many of those rumors have yet to be substantiated. But the film has nonetheless run into more concrete obstacles.

The presence of a key marketing element like Ledger does indeed make sellers and investors aim for higher dollar figures -- especially true for a film whose budget is thought to be upward of $20 million.

And as much as buyers might covet the Ledger aspect, the pic still presents a marketing challenge. Gilliam has grown more experimental in recent years, and experts say that retailing "Parnassus" as a Ledger film risks running a word-of-mouth problem with general audiences unaccustomed to that kind of material.

A U.S. deal is expected shortly, with a mini-major or larger indie expected to make the play. (The movie does already have a deal for Mandate International/Lionsgate to release it in the U.K., where Gilliam tends to fare better, and is expected to open there in the summer. Other territories, from Japan to Spain, have been presold to international distribs as well.)

Still, the absence of a sale for an icon's last movie nearly six months after talks began speaks to the difficulty of selling art house films to the domestic market, as buyers wait until later in the production process, take fewer bets and offer lower prices. "This movie stars Heath Ledger in his final performance -- it will get a deal and come out in the U.S.," said one indie film veteran. "But it's no accident that it's taking this long."
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