This news comes as no surprise, but is still a bad sign of possibly disappointing things in the near future. As expected from a World War II epic from the mind of dialogue-loving Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds‘ first cut ran at 2 hours and 27 minutes—-the script alone nears 160 pages (a minute per script page), so Tarantino had already trimmed his original vision down some. When the film premiered at Cannes recently, the main concern from critics was that Tarantino went too heavy on the talking, making the film’s running time an issue.
Nothing that a few nips and tucks in the editing room couldn’t fix, right?
Well, if the Weinstein brothers (the film’s notoriously difficult and stubborn distributors) get their way, it’ll be more like surgery with the chainsaw. According to The Wrap‘s Sharon Waxman, the Weinsteins may be asking QT to shave off a whopping 40 minutes, which is clearly more of a financial concern on their part than anything related to artistry. It’s no secret that the Weinsteins are regulars to the “financial drama” faction. [more after the jump]
Aside from The Dark Knight and the Lord of the Rings films, films nearing two-and-a-half hours typically fail at the box office—-blame it on America’s sad, short collective attention span. Inglourious Basterds isn’t Batman or J.R. Tolkien, though; rather, it’s a chatty, reckless, grindhouse-y WWII comic book come to life, no built-in audience included. And the presence of star Brad Pitt isn’t enough to ensure swarming audiences; name the last Pitt-starring film that dominated the ticket receipts. He’s more of a celebrity than a bankable star.
Cutting Inglourious Basterds down a great deal makes sense for the Weinsteins’ pockets, but even that’s not a guarantee. As a huge fan of both Tarantino and the film’s screenplay, I’d much rather see as much of the filmmaker’s true vision as possible. The Weinsteins should’ve known from jump that Inglourious Basterds would be a tough sell.
More on this story as it develops. Ultimately, the decision seems to rest on Tarantino’s shoulders, so we may have nothing to worry about anyway. Fingers crossed.
Original story: The Wrap — Media Buzzards Circle Weinstein Co.