A poster and a trailer were released earlier this week for the thriller “Dying Of The Light,” and both state the picture is, “a film by Paul Schrader.” But in what may seem like an odd move on the surface, the director does not want you to see it. Nor does its star Nicolas Cage, co-star Anton Yelchin, or executive producer Nicolas Winding Refn. Why in god’s name would they do that? Well, you’ll recall last month it was reported that Schrader was battling his producers. They contend that he quit the film, while he asserts that he was locked out of the editing room and they made their own cut without his permission.
After that brouhaha, most pundits expected some kind legal battle, which didn’t happen. Or it did and the creatives on the film lost. Schrader, his cast, and his executive producer, took to Facebook to deliver this message: the war had been lost and in a move of solidarity, they appeared wearing T-shirts of protest. Here’s Schrader’s Facebook statement:
"We lost the battle. "Dying of the Light," a film I wrote and directed, was taken away from me, reedited, scored and mixed without my input. Yesterday Grindstone (a division of Lionsgate) released the poster and the trailer. They are available on line. Here we are, Nick Cage, Anton Yelchin, Nic Refn and myself, wearing our "non-disparagement" T shirts. The non-disparagement clause in an artist’s contract gives the owners of the film the right to sue the artist should the owner deem anything the artist has said about the film to be "derogatory." I have no comment on the film or others connected with the picture."
Well, that’s clearly not a derogatory remark and they can’t be sued, but the statement is clear, with Yelchin raising his fist in objection and Cage clearly displaying the message. This is not a Paul Schrader film, they all support Schrader, and they do not want to you see this movie. It’s a bold and canny move of dissent on the filmmaker’s part. Of course this might even make it more enticing to see for some viewers—or at least media types—but the message, though silent, is loud and clear.
Thompson on Hollywood says the New York Film Festival wanted to show Schrader’s cut of the film, but the festival is over and that opportunity clearly has passed. Anne Thompson also talked to Schrader, but he cannot discuss the film, or the terms. Instead, he’s simply moving on and starting a web series. "That’s the future," he told TOH, "’La Dolce Vita‘ in ten ten-minute segments. ‘La Dolce Vita’ is a web series, full of people that come and go and don’t come back, it’s episodes. That’s how quickly everything is changing. It’s a new form of storytelling. I enjoyed writing it a lot."
“Dying Of The Light” opens on December 5 in limited release and VOD. To see it or not, the choice is yours.