Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hey, Harvey Weinstein - Free Killshot

Killshot is one of my favorite Elmore Leonard novels – a relentless bad guy, a tough-as-nails good guy and a taut plot, as the author expertly turns the screws, pushing the opposing forces against one another. The neo-noir dialogue in the book is crackling, second to none.

So I was thrilled to learn that a screen version was in the works, directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and featuring a promising cast – Mickey Rourke, lately undergoing career redemption through his work in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler; Diane Lane; Thomas Jane; and Rosario Dawson. Quentin Tarantino executive produced, and and Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove) penned the screenplay, reportedly with uncredited script doctoring by Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella.

Alas, the movie is "mired in total confusion," according to a blog post on Leonard's own web site.

Leonard, writing Oct. 10, pointed out that the (latest) release date, as indicated on the Weinstein Company's web site, is Nov. 7.

Several weeks ago, a story in the Los Angeles Times related the whole sordid tale of the movie's development, production and numerous delays.

According to the Oct. 2 story, "It's at least the fifth time the movie, starring Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke, has been scheduled for release only to be pushed to a later date. As it now stands, Killshot, which was filmed nearly three years ago and at one point looked as if it might be a direct-to-video release, likely will not come out until early 2009, the Weinstein Co. said Wednesday."

More: "The movie dates to the mid-1990s at Miramax Films, when brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein ran the division of the Walt Disney Co. One early incarnation had Tony Scott ("Man on Fire") directing Robert De Niro and Tarantino as the bad guys, with Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman as the married couple."

Here's a snapshot of Killshot's history, according to the Internet Movie Database:, which lists the release date as Nov. 7.

"Viggo Mortensen was the original choice for the role of Wayne Colson.

Originally set up in 2002 with Tony Scott directing, Robert De Niro playing Amand Degas, and Quentin Tarantino playing Richie Nix.

The film's history traces back to when the project was originally at Miramax under Disney's banner around 1995, when the Weinsteins were running that division. This is one of several projects that they took with them when they sold their stake of Miramax to Disney outright in 2005 and then announced a distribution deal with MGM soon after that this film was among those such as Lucky Number Sleven, Clerks II and 1408 to name a few.

The film has undergone a series of re-shoots after it's original completion date in October 2005, one of the possible reasons why the film been delayed this long."

Richard Gladstein, Killshot's producer, told the Times that he believes the movie is "really strong. I'd love to see the movie come out, and I think audiences will like it. John Madden is an incredible director."

And this from Cinematical: "The first time I came across a trailer for the Diane Lane/Thomas Jane/Mickey Rourke hitman thriller Killshot (only remaining on an AICN archive page and the errant DVD release), it was back in September of 2006. Since then, the Elmore Leonard adaptation has endured reshoots in January of 2007 and countless changes in release dates after that. Of course, there's also at least three test screening reviews that bring to light the entire removal of a character played by Johnny Knoxville from the film.

Now, not long after the Weinstein Company issued its latest round of supposed scheduling, Killshot's most recent date -- November 7, 2008 -- has been dashed away by this Los Angeles Times piece, and as pointed out, how does one struggle to release anything that John Madden, Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack and Quentin Tarantino all had hands in at some point? How does one struggle to even sell off domestic distribution rights to a film with this cast and that crew? The obvious answer is, of course, that the film is a downright dud, though the general pedigree and harshest reviews seem to suggest that it's not a total turkey.

The best-case scenario at this point is that the film rides the awards buzz of Rourke's performance in December's The Wrestler as suggested and gets a theatrical release in the early winter dumping grounds (through the Weinsteins' Third Rail arm, I'd bet), while the worst-case scenario is the film being directly downgraded to the level of a Blockbuster-exclusive curio. We shall see."

Meanwhile, Leonard sounds like he's fighting mad: "So, Harvey, please, either fix the website or release the movie. Stop the torture."

It's a reasonable request from a popular, much-loved (and much adapted) crime writer, no?

Too much to ask, Harvey? We're begging you ... free Killshot now!

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