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Lionsgate Picks Up U.S. Distribution Rights To River Phoenix's Final Film 'Dark Blood'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist May 16, 2014 at 2:00PM

When River Phoenix sadly passed away at the age of 23 in 1993, there were eleven days left to shoot on what would be his final film, "Dark Blood." Just under two decades later, director George Sluzier endeavored to finish the film by re-cutting the footage and using voiceover to fill in the parts that weren't shot. The result? You'll soon be able to judge for yourself.
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Dark Blood

When River Phoenix sadly passed away at the age of 23 in 1993, there were eleven days left to shoot on what would be his final film, "Dark Blood." And as you might imagine, production halted following his death. But in 2011, just under two decades since the project was stopped in its tracks, director George Sluzier endeavored to finish the film by re-cutting the footage and using voiceover to fill in the parts that weren't shot. The result? Well, we saw it in Berlin and essentially, it acts better as "a fitting and ironic tribute to a life ended before it could be finished" than a movie, perhaps, but you'll soon be able to judge for yourself.

Lionsgate has snapped up the U.S. rights to the film, and will be releasing it on VOD. But more interesting, we're curious to see the reaction of the Phoenix family given that they have indicated they have no interest in participating in anything to do with "Dark Blood." Check out the press release below.

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Cannes, May 16 2014. - Cinemavault has announced it has sold North American rights to Lionsgate for DARK BLOOD. This unique film saw production halted in 1993 following the death of its star River Phoenix (STAND BY ME)

The feature film is directed and co-written by George Sluizer (THE VANISHING, THE COMMISSIONER) who spent years battling to complete the film.

In 1993 the insurance company of the film attacked River Phoenix for drug abuse , lost the claim in 1998  and decided to destroy the negative of Dark Blood, but Director George Sluizer managed to save the film and preserve the creative talent from being lost.  In 2012 he was  able , using the existing negative, to edit and finally give life to the unfinished  movie DARK BLOOD.

DARK BLOOD co-stars Judy Davis (BARTON FINK,  HUSBANDS AND WIVES) and Jonathan Pryce (BRAZIL, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN).

DARK BLOOD  was invited  in the Main Program of the International Film Festival of Berlin in 2013 and received standing ovations.

It was further invited at the International Festivals of Miami, Hongkong, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Bucharest (Transylvania), Seattle, Moscow, Jerusalem, Durban, Montreal, Split (Croatia), Sao Paulo, Taipeh (Taiwan), Glasgow and Brussels, and the European Film Academy.

DARK BLOOD tells the story of Boy (Phoenix) a young widower who retreats to the desert after his wife dies of radiation following nuclear tests near their home. Boy is waiting for the end of the world and carves Katchina dolls that supposedly contain magical powers. Harry (Pryce) and Buffy (Davis) travel to the desert on a second honeymoon in an attempt to save their marriage. Their Bentley breaks down in the middle of nowhere and Boy rescues the couple. Haunted by the memories of his wife, Boy holds them prisoner because of his desire for the woman and his ambition to create a better world with her.

“The story behind the making of a film can be as intriguing as the film itself. An actor with undeniable talent has his life cut short before he could fully realize his potential. This is a time capsule. A piece of history.”

DARK BLOOD is currently in theaters in Japan under Culture Convenience Club, scheduled to be released in Brazil with Esfera Filmes, South Korea with AUD Cinema, and in Turkey with Digiturk.

This article is related to: Dark Blood, Lionsgate