Okay, I was pretty sure the Gondry news was the best I would come across today, but then I found this: MonkeyPeaches is reporting that Michael Barker – a co-President of Sony Pictures Classics – has told a Beijing newspaper that Sony will be releasing Zhang Yimou’s newest film (Shi Mian Mai Fu or The House Of Flying Daggers or Lovers depending on your language preference and location) in North America for the 2004 Christmas movie season and will be pushing it hard to Oscar voters.
Huzzah! Finally a company that gets it! Now why do I believe Sony will follow through when Miramax made and broke all of the same promises with Yimou’s Hero? Four reasons. First, this is the exact same path they charted to great success with Crouching Tiger and when you’ve got a system that’s proven to work you don’t mess with it. Second, the film is riding a wave of positive press from Cannes and Sony’s not nearly dumb enough to fail to take advantage of that. Third, they’ve said all along that they’re aiming to release the film as close as possible to the Asian release to prevent Chinese DVDs from crossing the ocean and diluting their box office take. I question whether first seeing the film on DVD would prevent someone from wanting to see it on the big screen – every viewing of Hero leaves me itching just a little bit more to see it in all it’s projected glory – but the simple fact is that the film hits Chinese screens in mid-July so if they want to keep release times tight they’ve got to do it before the end of the year. Fourth, and this is the one that makes me giggle with delight, releasing this film three months or so after Miramax’s release of Hero (assuming it actually happens this time) allows Sony to piggy back onto the Hero press campaign. Basically Miramax is going to spend a bunch of money trying to educate the audience on who Zhang Yimou is and how to approach this sort of film and while that’s still fresh in both audience and critics’ minds Sony can come along and say “Remember that film? Liked it a bit? Here’s another one.” There’s a certain poetic justice in having a company that screwed this fantastic film maker over for years inadvertently help out in the promotion of his next film. It makes Bubba a happy boy, indeed.
And if you’d like to check out some of that aforementioned positive press you can check out this review. Or this one. Or this one. And if you’ve not yet seen the trailer you are a truly foolish person but can redeem yourself from your own pit of folly by clicking here.