Films that go to Sundance are independent, which means they were made without studio backing and are seeking distributors to pick them up and get them into theaters. Independent films that do not get picked up play in art houses in major cities before going to DVD, according to Ira Deutchman, president and CEO of Emerging Pictures, a New York-based digital film production and exhibition company.
Damon Romine, Entertainment Media Director at GLAAD, said that “there are lots of films with major actors that we’re just now hearing about being picked up, so I feel that it’s only a matter of time [before ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ is picked up].”
Deutchman said that there is “really no set amount of time” before a film is picked up.
“Sometimes it happens right there, sometimes immediately after, or sometimes the film needs to develop a head of steam before it’s picked up,” he said, adding that “it’s not uncommon for a movie to be floundering in the market for months and months.”
Deutchman said he didn’t think the economy was a factor, though he said it’s “very expensive” to distribute a film these days.
‘Phillip Morris’ is MIA
Gay-themed Jim Carrey movie delayed by distribution snafu
Friday, February 27, 2009
“I Love You Phillip Morris,” which premiered at Sundance in January, is one of the most buzzed about films that premiered at the famed independent film festival. With heavy gay content, it could join the ranks of “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk” as one of the most visibly gay movies, but it may take time for viewers to see it — the film has not been picked up for distribution.
The film stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as lovers who meet in prison. Carrey plays Steven Russell, a closeted Texan, who, after being rejected by his mother who gave him up for adoption, runs off to Miami. There, he comes out and becomes a con man, landing himself in prison, where he meets and falls in love with McGregor’s character, Phillip Morris.
“A distributor will look at a movie and try to size it up in terms of a target audience,” he said. “How easy is it to get to them? How efficiently can it be marketed? The fact that there are major stars makes it press worthy, but is it press worthy to people who follow those stars? Is that the right subject matter in terms of reaching the star’s audience?”
Rumors have been circulating that the film has explicit scenes that could garner it an NC-17 rating, but Romine, who saw the movie, said that it is “no more explicit than an R-rated film that includes straight characters.”
During Sundance, GLAAD held a press conference with the movie’s stars and Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the film’s writers and directors, as part of Queer Lounge, which honors gay films, actors and directors with screenings and lectures. Carrey, McGregor, the writers and directors spoke about the film, agreeing that sexuality is just one component of a larger picture.
“I don’t think it’s a gay movie,” Carrey said. “I think it’s a movie about humanity … From the perspective of my character, it really is about the lengths we go to for acceptance and love.”
Carrey also noted that some people asked him if he was sure he wanted to do the role.
“I said ‘absolutely,’ because sexual proclivity aside, it is a story about human beings that is so compelling and so interesting,” he said. “You love who you love, and love is love, and that’s the bottom line.”
McGregor said that he has played gay and bisexual characters in the past, with roles in “Velvet Goldmine” and “The Pillow Book.”
“I’ve kissed men in the past, and all of us on our first day of filming … we had scenes where were kissed and held each other, so … it’s not terribly much of a big deal,” he said. “My character’s situation is that Phillip is in love with Steven … and to be kissing the person you love, there’s nothing strange or unusual in that.”
Requa said that he didn’t want to make “an issue movie.”