Dec 10, 2015 (last updated April 26, 2016)
If you were wondering where that wide release for the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s Cell has gone, you’re going to have to keep waiting.
Clarius Entertainment, now relabeled Aviron Pictures has confirmed that they are no longer the distributor for the pic, which completed filming almost two years ago. Cell’s financier Benaroya Pictures politely could not comment on the film’s current domestic distribution situation — a situation that is likely headed toward litigation, mirroring Clarius’ mishandling of the Peter Bogdanovich film She’s Funny That Way earlier in 2015.
Back in 2013, Benaroya Pictures and Miscellaneous Entertainment formed an international sales company, International Film Trust and took the as of yet filmed Cell to Cannes to sell off distribution rights. No US distributor signed onto the project. Benaroya Pictures has had its share of fiscal problems, shutting down the Bruce Willis film Wake after 10 days of production due to money woes, shuttering the Robert De Niro and Robert Patterson film Idol’s Eyes just as filming was set to commence for similar issues and there were rumors of post production cash flow problems for Cell. In February 2015, new startup distributor Clarius Entertainment picked up US distribution rights for Cell and planned on an late 2015 wide release and the extent of their marketing efforts was uploading a still image with their acquisition press release — no trailers were cut. Clarius released their first three pictures in 2014 and all three were box office flops — the animated turkey Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, the Michael Douglas geezer targeting comedy And So It Goes and the Nicole Kidman dud Before I Go To Sleep. After Oz and And So It Goes hemorrhaged cash for the distributor, Clarius Chairman William Sadleir went to the Toronto International Film Festival and got into a bidding war over She’s Funny That Way and won US distribution for $4.5 million with a $24.5 million P&A commitment and a minimum 1,500 theater release. It was at about the time the deal was finalized when Before I Go To Sleep died a quiet death at the box office with only $3.2 million in ticket sales. Clarius only handed over $900,000 of the $4.5 million for She’s Funny That Way and was unable to come up with any cash to actually distribute the picture — which is a failure on both fronts for Clarius, not only as a distributor, but they are (Clarius Capital) a fund that covers P&A costs for wide releases for distributors — now incapable of funding a wide release. It’s this kind of unethical behavior that makes the world of distribution such a cesspool. If any of the several studios that were bidding on the film took the rights, the film would have saw its theatrical rollout, but after Clarius left the film in limbo, the producers were only able to sell the pic to Lionsgate for a VOD release and small token theatrical release. STTN Capital is suing Clarius, claiming fraud and damages.
Which brings us back to Cell. After Clarius missed deadlines to pay for She’s Funny That Way, they purchased Cell and also began shifting the release date for another acquisition The Outskirts, before removing it from their calendar. Clarius has released one film in 2015, a $1 million purchase of My All American, a faith based pic which required smaller P&A muscles and has grossed an awful $2 million in theaters. Clarius, now as Aviron Pictures, in November 2015 received a $6.25 million cash infusion from Quizam Media, a small media company which has the infamous Uwe Boll on their board. Quizam was given 10% ownership of Aviron for the $6.25 million to apply to P&A costs for future releases and on November 23, the multi-trillion dollar asset manager BlackRock gave Aviron an unreported infuse of credit to provide P&A for 8 wide releases. Despite being refreshed with finances, the Aviron website only lists a link to the MPAA and makes no mention of any movies in their pipeline. With Clarius unable to provide payment for She’s Funny That Way and its pending litigation, it is more than likely Cell and The Outskirts will go down a similar path. She’s Funny That Way was unlucky to be lured in by a company without the capital to release the film, but despite the botched theatrical release, the film was lucky to escape being tangled in the courts for years and found a new distributor. Cell might not be so lucky. There has been no public mention of distributors circling the orphaned Cell and both Stephen King, who also penned the screenplay and star John Cusack have been left in the dark.
UPDATE 4: Cell will premiere on VOD June 10 and receive a token theatrical release July 8.
UPDATE 3: Saban Films acquired US distribution rights. No release date or if it will go theatrical has been determined.
UPDATE 2: Frightfest will no longer premier the pic and released this statement from their site: ‘Due to circumstances beyond our control we have had to withdraw CELL from the 6:30 PM slot on Friday 26th of February. If you were looking forward to this in particular, we are sorry. There was absolutely nothing we could do about it, and believe us, we tried.’
UPDATE 1: Cell will premiere at the Film4 Frightfest in mid February.
Any updates on Cell will be posted…