A Chinese production has never spent $100m dollars on a movie before, nor has one cast one of America’s hottest actors to provide a dramatic performance at the center of it. With the director behind crossover hit Hero behind the camera and Batman himself in front, you would have expected Flowers of War to nab a decent release over here in the states, but looks like the timing isn’t going to work out…
The dilemma is that the producers of the film want to qualify for more than just a foreign-language Oscar (the film is China’s official selection), and to do that they need a release soon… at a time when all of the major studios have their 2011 Awards slates locked up nice and tight. Hell, The Weinstein Company alone has four films that they could push for any number of awards. This leaves the producers looking for a deal with a smaller company, in this case Wrekin Hill Entertainment.
Wrekin Hill is obviously a small studio, though they boast some of the people behind the releases of Memento and Passion of the Christ (which would be more interesting if those films didn’t come out so many years ago, and in such unique circumstances). The current version of the company has more recently put out Peter Weir’s The Way Back, and Hesher. The later starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt and did get a decent festival run, but the box office completely fizzled and things turned disasterous when producers started suing the bejeezus out of each other.
As minor as the actual distribution partner might be, it’s true that a few award nominations could help the release expand in the future and for that the Flowers of War producers have a hell of an ally: Cynthia Swartz. A thirty-year veteran of promotion and awards campaigning, Swartz started a new PR company earlier this year and was herself instrumental in getting Crash and The Hurt Locker their gold. Before that she worked on literally dozens of the biggest and most critically lauded films of the last few decades and seems more than equipped to get a Christian Bale a Best Actor nod, even in such a packed year.
Late contender though Flower of War may be, the strategy they’ve set up may just pay off. It will certainly work a lot better than had they simply let the film loose in a vacuum later next year or something.
Regardless, first thing Swartz should do? Order the editors to cut a trailer that doesn’t suck.
Source | LA Times