Getting a movie made about an elderly father and his mild mannered son on a road trip to collect non-existent lottery winnings is very likely a tough sell to a Hollywood big shot. Getting a movie made about an elderly father and his mild mannered son on a road trip to collect non-existent lottery winnings in black and white is near impossible. Alexander Payne managed to convince the right people at Paramount to fund "Nebraska," but with a caveat: He agreed to produce a color version to help the studio interest cable networks and other non-theatrical venues.
"We were asked by Paramount, as one of the conditions to shooting in B&W… to also deliver a color version, so I was restricted from using B&W film stock," cinematographer Phedon Papamichael told Indiewire earlier this year. "We ended up shooting digital because my digital intermediate process in post was supposed to emulate the look of film stock. I had Paramount sent me a copy of "Paper Moon." I was quite happy with the results. I've told everybody it's digital, but a lot of people assume it's black and white [film stock]."
So a color version exists, and it's surprising that this iteration is getting what amounts to splashy premiere. The Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate owned Epix channel is airing the color version of 'Nebraska' this weekend, and the network is running TV spots boasting the following claim (via Thompson On Hollywood):
Nominated for six Academy awards, including Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Cinematography, experience Alexander Payne's masterful black and white vision, and for the first time, Epix brings you the full color version for a limited time showing. See Nebraska in two totally different states. Sunday at 8 p.m., followed by the world premiere of the color version, exclusively on Epix.
The film's co-producer Albert Berger told TOH he was "unaware" about this showing of 'Nebraska,' and Payne has been very clear that the black-and-white version is the one he wants audiences to see. "I've seen it in color. If they ever need it, like in television in Moldova or something like that, if they absolutely needed a color version, we have it," he told ComingSoon last fall. "They may not have to use it, but I've seen it in color and it looks really beautiful. It's just not as good a movie."
So set your DVRs: This Sunday might be one of the few times you'll be able to see the alternate version of 'Nebraska.'