Looks like “The Escapist” is not getting out after all

From The Independent, Sunday 17 August 2008

“Brian Cox, the Emmy-winning actor, criticised the film industry yesterday for failing to push independent movies, and spoke of his fear that his “best work” may go unrecognised.


Cox, who starred in the Bourne trilogy and created Hannibal Lecter on the screen before Anthony Hopkins, in ‘Manhunter’, is promoting his latest film at Tilda Swinton’s alternative film festival in Nairn this week, in the hope of attracting a distributor.

The Escapist, which also stars Liam Cunningham and Joseph Fiennes, is about a prisoner serving life (played by Cox) who breaks out of jail to see his estranged, dying daughter.

“It did very well [at film festivals], but we have no distribution,” Cox said. “I am trying to get it seen by more than two people and a dog”.

There’s a bit of a mystery here; The Escapist was picked up by Vertigo Films who announced that it would be on general release in (if I remember rightly) June this year. Vertigo premiered it in London and the film picked up yet more really good reviews, but nothing’s happened since and it looks like the deal’s off. And, reading between the lines of the rest of The Independent’s report, would suggest that this is down to them failing to secure a viable deal with the Exhibitors who, Cox asserts, seem quite happy for US blockbusters to squeeze UK independent films out of the market.

There’s a lesson here. Various self-styled ‘guru’s’, especially the ones who make at least part of their living by peddling advice on indepenent filmmaking, argue that what you need to do is make a ‘genre’ film with stars attached; i.e. exactly what director Rupert Wyatt did with this film. But what he failed to do, and what the ‘guru’s’ fail to tell you, was to cut a deal which gave all the rights to one of the US majors.

This is how bad things have got – you do everything: genre, named cast, success at Sundance, great reviews, and you still get fucked by the Yanks. It’s time to stop kidding ourselves and start fighting back.


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