Margaret quashed by studio?
I must admit that I haven't been reading much about the film Margaret, and it's only since I saw it would be hitting British screens this December that this article caught my eye, and I have to comment on how good an article it is and how much it makes you think about what goes on with films inside the studio once the director has delivered them.
In the case of Margaret it doesn't look like it's been anything but good, and the current cut of the film sounds like it isn't as good as it potentially could be with the director's longer version languishing behind a series of studio hired editor cuts.
The story is that Kenneth Lonergan's film Margaret, a film that I'd heard about some time ago and has been delayed since it finished in 2005, finally getting a limited U.S. release and surprisingly seeing only a full release in the UK and France starting this December.
Margaret stars Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno and Olivia Thirlby in a story about a woman who witnesses a bus accident and decides to intervene to put things right, believing that she has had a hand in the cause of the events. As she tries to help those involved she's met with opposition, and as those and the world around her do everything they can to quash her desire to help and do the right thing, her frustrations turn to the others close to her, and herself.
The film was delayed for a number of reasons, which The Playlist article tells us about, and seems to have started with a legal battle between the studio and producer, the director wanting more editing time and not being given it, and a string of other directors and editors arriving to try and re-cut the film to the way the studio want it.
This isn't an uncommon practice by the way, a studio can often take a film and assign it to an editor or two to deliver different cuts and see if theirs is what they want to distribute. However looking back through some of the stories it doesn't seem to have been all the studios fault and there are some comments that the director himself was showing some...
"...unprofessional and irrational behaviour..."
This comes from the director Sydney Pollack through The Playlist in an earlier story about the troubles for Margaret. Film School Rejects also had a story where Mark Ruffalo was talking about the problems on the film and revealed that Martin Scorsese was working with Kenneth Lonergan to deliver another cut of the film.
"It was a movie that started at 186 pages. It was just a very, very finely interwoven piece of material and it's so beautiful. When he triedels. It was beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and the writing is incredible. It's a love story to a post-9/11 America and New York City. to cut it down, he had a very hard time. The studio was saying they wanted no more than two hours, and the rough cut I saw was a little bit over three hours long. It was absolutely incredible."
Apparently they couldn't manage to cut it below the length of time the studio wanted, so the studio decided to release it anyway. That was when another court case loomed where another Producer was trying to take the film from the studio in order to create their own cut instead of just releasing it.
What a mess, and all it means is that we don't get to see the film in the director's intended format which would appear to be the best one, for critics are saying that the third act doesn't work so well and maybe, just maybe, in amongst all those 186 pages there's a third act that does work. For they also say that if it did work, it would be a great film, some say a masterpiece.
That's why some critics are now petitioning the studio to release screeners in time for the awards season, and if that does happen and it even gets a mention or two, that will raise some hype around the film, and the more that know about it and want to see it, the more chance there is of a director's cut.