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Tuesday, October 29, 2019
PRESSMAN - DE PALMA SUPPORTS RESTORED 'PHANTOM'
SAYS DE PALMA WROTE LETTER ALONG WITH PAUL WILLIAMS, EDGAR WRIGHT, BRET EASTON ELLIS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/totheswanage.jpg

ComingSoon.net's Grant Hermanns spoke with Paul Williams and Edward Pressman at the Fantasia Fest this past July. In the interview, posted today, Pressman talks about "re-establiishing" Phantom Of The Paradise about five or six years after its initial release, by taking it to selected cities, to get Fox to re-release it. He also talks about efforts to get Led Zeppelin to sign off on the restored version of the film. Here's an excerpt from Hermanns' article:
Pressman describes the feeling prior to release as one of excitement before it opened to disappointing reviews, feeling a lot of that stemmed from “people [confusing] it with Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with the mix of genres of comedy, horror, musical and a love story.

“It was a lot of things combined in an original way,” Pressman said. “I never thought it would last. We did make a serious attempt to revive the film in the last five or six years after it opened and we re-released the film ourselves and created our own posters. We went to Little Rock, Arkansas and it worked and we went to Memphis and it worked again, and then we went to Dallas, and we re-established the film so that Fox was willing to re-release it. At that time, that was a major accomplishment.”

Despite the film’s lackluster reviews from critics and box office failure early upon release, the film found a major following in both Winnipeg and Paris, with the soundtrack selling over 20,000 copies in Canada alone and becoming certified gold. Williams recalled visiting Paris “maybe four or five years ago” and finding it at a theater, where he learned Phantom disappears for a while before returning for screenings 45 years after its release.

While Williams and Pressman love the impact the film has made over the years, writer/director de Palma has kept quiet on the film since its release, even being absent from the documentary surrounding its cult following, but Pressman assures he is not distancing himself from it.

“I talked to Brian as late as last week, he’s a fan of the film,” Pressman said. “He was very happy to hear that the film is going to be brought back with the original cut, and he wrote a letter to try to help make that happen. I think he definitely has a warm feeling to the movie.”

Though the film mostly holds a positive legacy, with critics warming up to the project over the years, one hitch it has seen over the years has to do with the name of Swan’s media conglomerate “Swan Song Enterprises,” as Led Zeppelin had a label of the same name at the time and all references had to be deleted from the film, aside from background visual references, but now a movement is underway to get the rights from the classic rock band to correct this and add it all back in.

“The remaster is done and we just need to get Led Zeppelin to sign off on it,” Pressman said. “So that’s what Brian de Palma wrote a letter along with Edgar Wright and Brett Easton Ellis and a number of other luminaries, Paul Williams, obviously, to try to get them to end this 40 year standoff.”

In exploring the possibility or doing an updated version of the rock opera for modern audiences, both Pressman and Williams believe it would be great to see and have cited the Baby Driver director as the perfect person to helm the project.

“If anybody was going to do Phantom and bring it up to date and all, I love Edgar,” Williams said. “I think that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 30 years from now will have the same kind of fans that Phantom does right now. I saw Shawn of the Dead and I loved it. I mean, Baby Driver, the fact that he shot the film to the songs, that he cuts on it and it’s also that it’s imperceptible. You don’t realize it. I never got lost in that. Then I met him and turned out he had done Bugsy Malone, it’s like Grease here in London.


Earlier this month, the Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival screened a version of Phantom Of The Paradise that had been reconstructed by Ari Kahan of the Swan Archives. At Fantasia Fest this past July, Paul Williams thanked Ari Kahan on stage. "So," Williams told the audience, "one of the things that Ari did, is, he managed to find the footage that was replaced. We thought it was lost forever, but he found it. I think that was your doing, right? [applause] And he found the footage. He has reconstructed Phantom Of The Paradise with all the original [footage]. So there is this absolutely pristine version of the film, exactly the way that Brian De Palma wanted you to see it. And, we're trying to get permission to now, once again, display all of it. That's the kind of archivist that Ari is, and it's terrific."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2019 7:49 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (9) | Permalink | Share This Post

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 12:58 AM CDT

Name: "JJ Abely"

Confused. What exactly is missing from PHANTOM that will be included in this restored version? I was at an LA screening with Jessica Harper a few years ago and it played beautifully. Is it just to restore the shots that clearly had "Swan Song?"

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 12:58 AM CDT

Name: "insider"

Release the restored version of The Black Dahlia and Domino.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 1:35 AM CDT

Name: "Mustafa"

As I would not expect to watch this in a theatrical release in small cities, I would love to own a restored criterion editionf of the new cut!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 7:26 AM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

Hi, JJ-- More info can be found in this previous post:

https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog/index.blog/1650239/paul-williams-thanks-ari-kahan-onstage-at-fantasia/

And then the reconstructed cut was screened recently:

https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog/index.blog/1708959/swan-song-phantom-cut-screened-at-sleepy-hollow/

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 7:45 AM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

An old news item from the Swan Archives gives an idea of what is probably/possibly in this reconstructed version:

July 25, 2014 - Recut Edition of Phantom Incorporating Swan Song Footage Yours for the Googling

Someone calling himself "Dr. Sapirstein" (presumably named after the character in Rosemary's Baby) has weaved the high def edition of the Archives' Swan Song footage back into the film to restore it to more or less what it had looked like prior to its last minute mutilation-for-legal-reasons. He's also reinserted the original title (Phantom, rather than Phantom of the Paradise), and created some nice packaging. It's impossible for an amateur to do this perfectly, as the sound elements that match the slightly longer original bits aren't available, but he's done a great job, we think. The Majestic's marquee is back, the street signs outside Swan Song Enterprises, the Swan Song sign in the hallway (and the unbroken cut of Winslow walking up the hallway and encountering the greasers), the Swan Song camera in the montage sequence, the Swan Song logo on the podium at the airport (instead of the spastic bird), and on and on. It looks great! While it wouldn't be accurate to call it a "Director's Cut," as Mr. De Palma hasn't approved it (and because some sound bits and other odds and ends had to be re-created from scratch), it is probably closer to the original intention than anything else out there. Our understanding is that fan edits like this are legal in at least some places around the world, but we're not going to link to it, because it might not be legal in yours (or ours). But if you get on the Google and search for some combination of "phantom" and "sapirstein" you'll probably find it pretty quickly.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 7:49 AM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

That 2014 version above used original footage that had been found by Ari Kahan, but it sounds like Kahan himself was more involved in this new reconstructed version.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 2:55 PM CDT

Name: "Principal Archivist (Ari)"
Home Page: http://www.swanarchives.org

The version under discussion here, which De Palma and Pressman are both supporting, is NOT the Sapirstein version; beyond that, I probably shouldn't say anything for the moment.

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 3:20 PM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

There's a fanedit running time of 93 minutes with two minutes of extra running time as opposed to the theatrical run of 91 minutes.

Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 12:02 PM CDT

Name: "Principal Archivist (Ari)"
Home Page: http://https://www.swanarchives.org

I *should* probably add, though, that the author of the article you're quoting, Grant Hermanns, either misunderstood Pressman, or perhaps Pressman misspoke, on a couple of points.

For one thing, nobody was confusing Phantom with Rocky Horror when Phantom came out, because Rocky Horror wouldn't be released for another year.  

As well, the effort Pressman described to "re-establish" the film, with the releases in Little Rock and so on, took place five or six MONTHS after the original release, not five or six YEARS.   

 

 

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