Two films that The Weinstein Company is bringing to Cannes this month have faced very different, complicated issues in the editing room -- resulting in multiple versions, or at least multiple visions for a single version, of festival opener "Grace of Monaco" and Un Certain Regard title "Eleanor Rigby." Just another day at the office for Harvey Scissorhands, then, though clarity seems to be arriving on both projects just in time for the start of the festival next week.
"Eleanor Rigby" is the less contentious project -- one which isn't experiencing editing conflict so much as a desire to keep as many options open as possible. Ned Benson's debut film occupies the unofficial Un Certain Regard slot reserved annually for a standout from a previous festival -- usually Sundance, though in this case, the film first appeared (as "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby") at Toronto last year.
The film that screens at Cannes, however, won't quite be what anyone's seen before. At Toronto, the project was presented as two separate features, subtitled "Him" and "Her," which portrayed the dissolution of a marriage from the perspective of the husband (James McAvoy) and wife (Jessica Chastain) respectively. That's a compelling concept, but also a complex one, so Benson has assembled a third version -- "Them" -- that combines the perspectives of the other two and clocks in one minute shy of two hours. That is the one that will premiere at Cannes.
But if you thought that third version was a final or studio-backed one, think again. Benson says he wasn't under any pressure from the Weinsteins to create "Them" after they bought the project at Toronto -- and now TWC has confirmed that all three versions will be released in some capacity this autumn. Describing the process as "insane," Benson told Deadline's Mike Fleming: “The idea of creating a third way to see this story, to have a two-hour relationship film or give the viewer the choice of seeing it in the three hour, two-part perspective is one of the most educational film experiences I’ve had in my life. And the outcome is mind-blowing, like hitting the lottery.”
Meanwhile, Kris got the following response from James McAvoy -- who hasn't yet seen the new version -- this morning: "I quite like the idea that people can watch the one that's going to Cannes and if they choose to they can watch one or both of the other movies as well. So it's quite an exciting distribution model. I don't know how they'll work it or what platforms they're going to use, but I think it's quite fresh, actually."
Having not seen either of the previous versions myself, I can't wait to get stuck in.
"Grace of Monaco," meanwhile, is a very different story, having been caught in the middle of a heated dispute between Harvey Weinstein and director Olivier Dahan since last year -- their disagreement over the final edit of the Nicole Kidman-starring Grace Kelly biopic having delayed the film from its planned 2013 release. As we posted last week, Dahan and Weinstein at one point seemed to have reached such an impasse -- with Dahan adamantly sticking to his allegedly more downbeat cut, and Weinstein insisting on a little more Hollywood pizzazz -- that TWC were looking likely to relinquish US distribution rights to the film altogether.
Now, it would appear that an agreement of sorts has been reached, as the studio is in final negotiations to retain rights to the film. No word yet on whether that means Weinstein's preferences for the film's tone will be met, but Dahan's cut is the one that will premiere on the Croisette next week. Will a Weinstein-approved cut be released in the US? It may depend on the reaction next week. Either way, the feud has cooked up a lot of publicity for "Grace" going into the festival.