Warner Bros. killing RocknRolla?
Well it certainly looks that way, because they aren't willing to spend the money marketing it, nor are they willing to release it to anything near the eight hundred screens that had originally been promised in the deal.
What's more is that with the line up of films they have after buying over New Line, they don't think that RocknRolla is sitting up there with the good ones, and seem to rate it so lowly that they're willing to drop it altogether.
Alan Horn, someone at Warners Bros who supposedly knows about films, although since he's an executive we really know he cares about his chequebook, had this to say about the film:
“I guess I'm in a shocking state of equanimity. The filmmakers have every right to do what they think is best in support of their movies. But we have the right to do what's best for Warner Bros. Sometimes the pursuit of those interests results in a disagreement. For now, we're preparing to release the film in October, but I don't see it starting out on 800 screens. If Joel is thinking there is someone out there willing to spend twice as much money as we're willing to, I'm sure he will pursue that.”
Well that seems pretty clear, if Joel Silver can get a better deal elsewhere Warner Bros are more than happy to let it go, what does that say for the film?
What's more is that Horn gives the following comment, which I think feels a little insulting towards British film in general, not just RocknRolla. Perhaps it wasn't meant like that when he gave it to the L.A. Times through Rope of Silicon, but it sure reads like that.
“I think it's a well-made picture, but while it's funny in spots, it's very English...I don't think it's broadly commercial. It feels like a film that deserves a spirited release, but not a wide one. Joel has an 800-screen deal, which we'll honor, but we might not be willing to spend the marketing money he wants us to.”
I'm sure that the English comment wasn't meant to come right before the “don't think it's broadly commercial” comment, however that's what it looks like, and when you line it up with the fact that they are also looking to find someone to take Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire off their hands, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they're dropping the British films off their slate as fast as possible, after all they have everything else to deliver.
The article says that the reasoning is to ensure that there's not a burden on their marketing staff because since they bought New Line they've been under pressure. Well, perhaps they shouldn't have bought New Line, or when they did increased their marketing department.
However that's a film fan giving business advice, and that's crazy, after all you wouldn't trust a businessman to give you film advice such as English films aren't commercial and they don't deserve a wide release.
Actually read into that we don't think America will like it, so we're dropping it. Let's hope it gets a broad release in the rest of the world and does exceedingly well. For Guy Ritchie this might turn out to be good news, as Britain and film fans might just rally round the film and show Warner Bros that RocknRolla and Slumdog Millionaire are worth more than most of their slate, and let's hope it does well for whoever does pick it up.