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Waiting for Malick: Which Film Fest Will Debut Tree of Life?

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 13, 2010 at 12:48PM

After not showing at Cannes or Venice, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life did screen at Telluride: but only six people saw the cut-down movie (two hours, 15 minutes) at two separate screenings for Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight, which landed the picture. The Tree of Life is inspiring raves from the few who've seen it (they use words like "cinema-changing"). Even though the film boasts stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, that does not mean that it will be anything but an art house success d'estime. But Searchlight is willing to give it their best shot, which is usually pretty damned good.
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Thompson on Hollywood

After not showing at Cannes or Venice, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life did screen at Telluride: but only six people saw the cut-down movie (two hours, 15 minutes) at two separate screenings for Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight, which landed the picture. The Tree of Life is inspiring raves from the few who've seen it (they use words like "cinema-changing"). Even though the film boasts stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, that does not mean that it will be anything but an art house success d'estime. But Searchlight is willing to give it their best shot, which is usually pretty damned good.

Searchlight did have to pay something up front and make a marketing commitment to get the movie, which will NOT be released by the end of the year. The question is, can Summit convince all the territories that bought the film to hold on to their hats and wait to release it before the movie launches at a major film festival? Sundance's John Cooper wants it. Berlin and Cannes want it too. So will it be January, February or May? That is the question.

This article is related to: Genres, Headliners, Studios, Festivals, Drama, Brad Pitt, Fox Searchlight


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.