METRODOME EXPLAINS DECISION TO RELEASE 'PASSION' STRAIGHT TO DVD & VOD
The Skinny's Paul Houghton from the U.K. posted an article about Brian De Palma yesterday. In discussing Passion, De Palma tells Houghton, "I've always been controversial. I’m not like my peers that went to Hollywood in the 70s. They became the establishment, but I’m not liked in certain quarters of the industry because I’ve always tried to do things on my own terms. I see myself as an outsider."
Houghton discusses Metrodome's decision to skip theatrical and release Passion straight to DVD (it comes out on Monday; Houghton includes a quote from the distributor), and this moves into a discussion about Redacted and political filmmaking. Here's an excerpt:
Metrodome, the film’s UK distributor, have deemed the film a non-starter for the cinema, instead sending it straight to DVD and video on demand. They said in a statement to The Skinny: “Brian De Palma has an in-built fan base, but a genre like this can be difficult to release theatrically. It’s a turbulent theatrical market and we felt this was the best way to launch the film to UK audiences.”
It’s a marked decline for a director who deserves to be considered an A-lister. Years before Martin Scorsese was on the scene, De Palma was giving Robert De Niro his breaks on the streets of New York with anti-Vietnam films Greetings and Hi Mom!, and comedy of errors The Wedding Party. In the mid-70s, he handed Scorsese the Taxi Driver script. In his first Hollywood gig, Get to Know Your Rabbit, De Palma directed Orson Welles. He was the man George Lucas turned to when he got stuck on the Star Wars "A long time ago…” prologue. He was selected by Tom Cruise to kickstart the Mission: Impossible franchise, creating the iconic image of Cruise hanging suspended above a neon-white, touch-sensitive room, a bead of sweat hanging from his glasses. Now he’s pinning his hopes on the whims of iTunes, Sky Box Office and Tescos.
It seems a strange decision, but Metrodome have crunched their numbers. De Palma, though, is sanguine about the release: “I made this film, as I’ve made all my films, to be seen on the big screen,” he says. “But I’m in my seventies now, and I see my daughter watching most of her films on her laptop. Technology will continue to change everything, so what are we going to do about it? Anyway, the cinema to me seems more about pre-sold franchises, and that has absolutely no interest to me whatsoever.”
This isn’t the first De Palma film to scale the murkier depths of British film releasing. Femme Fatale never saw the inside of a British cinema while Redacted, ’s deeply controversial “fictional documentary” about human rights abuses – on both sides – of the Iraq war, got a brief and limited theatrical run before disappearing from view. “Redacted did something that no film has ever done; it criticised the American troops,” he says. “That’s unheard of in America. You just can’t question the boys. But the film came from stories soldiers were sharing of their experiences and posting online. I still find it gob-smacking – disgusting –that we tried to claim victory in that country.”
Redacted, he concedes, may have impacted on his ability to find funding for his films. But he doesn’t regret making the film, seeing it as a return to his formative years. The young De Palma consciously positioned himself as “America’s Godard,” spending the 60s independently making angry liberal firebrand films on the East Coast before Hollywood called as he hit 30. It is, he says, the great failing of the generation of filmmakers that will follow him: “I’m confounded by the lack of political films out there by young directors. The corruption that exists in the circles of power, be it in Washington or Hollywood, remain industrial. It hasn’t changed since I was young. But where are the political filmmakers? Where’s the outrage? The public relations people are in control of the media now.”