More Details on the ‘Donnie Darko: Director’s Cut’

After bombing in the theaters pulling in only $517,375, Richard Kelly’s genius of a film, Donnie Darko, has become a cult favorite over the past few years and is surprisingly popular among horror fanatics. A Director’s Cut version of the film is set to hit select theaters this summer (premiere May 21st) (read more). The new version of the film will carry 21 minutes of new footage and more. Read on for this HUGE story that just hit the trades..
Variety writes, “Donnie Darko,” which made a paltry $517,375 when it was released in October 2001, will get a second chance.

Newmarket Films, which holds domestic distrib rights, is looking to cash in on the pic’s growing cult status by rereleasing a director’s cut this summer.

New cut, which includes 21 minutes of footage not in the original release, will premiere May 29 at the Seattle Film Festival.

Newmarket topper Bob Berney said the company then plans to release the pic on about 10 screens in the city as a test run for a wider national release.

“I want to see if we can play it in the malls and multiplexes,” Berney said, adding that the company planned TV and print ad buys commensurate with a big-budget release.

Newmarket says it will use the results of the Seattle release to determine the pattern for a national rollout.

Worst case, Berney said, “It turns out it gets an extended release life as a midnight show.” But best case, he said, is, “If it really works in the suburbs, we decide we can release it wider in the suburbs nationally.”

“Darko,” the quirky debut pic by helmer Richard Kelly, stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a disturbed teen who may or may not have supernatural powers.

Kelly, who recently completed the new cut of the pic, said it includes some of the deleted scenes found on the DVD, “and some of the extra material I intentionally left off the DVD.”

“Darko” has always been an ambiguous story, open to multiple interpretations. “In the director’s cut, we’re deepening the mystery.” Kelly said. “It’s a more thorough exploration of what this film means.”

In addition to new footage, some sound and visual f/x have been re-done.

Strong DVD sales

Though the pic’s theatrical perf was dismal, it has become a staple for theaters running midnight shows along the lines of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” And aud interest has been demonstrated by strong sales of the DVD, handled by 20th Century Fox, which, according to Berney, have grossed $10 million on about a million units.

Adam Fields, a producer on the pic, said the rerelease “is a testament to the power of the homevideo and DVD market.”

He added: “We don’t get many do-overs in life. But this was such a special and unique movie. It wasn’t around long enough in theaters for people to find out what it was.”

Pic was originally financed by Pandora Films, which sold domestic and international distrib rights to others.

Two years ago, “Darko” also had a strong run in the U.K., where it was distribbed by Metrodome, grossing $2.4 million from around 50 screens, when it was released Halloween weekend in 2002.

The “Darko” soundtrack also has created a cult star in singer Gary Jules, whose collaborator, Michael Andrews, scored the film.

The Southern California-based singer-songwriter recorded — in under 90 minutes — a cover of Tears for Fears’ 1982 hit “Mad World” for the film. It became a No. 1 hit on the U.K. singles last Christmas, selling more than 650,000 units in the U.K. and holding the top spot for five weeks.

Jules, who had recorded an album for A&M in the late 1990s, self-released his disc “Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets” in January 2002. After “Mad World” became an international sensation, Universal acquired the album, tacked on “Mad World” and released the CD on March 30. (Sanctuary released the album in U.K. in January.) According to SoundScan, it has sold about 25,000 copies in the U.S.”

Source: Variety