EXCLUSIVE: Director Scott Cooper Says Crazy Heart Was Supposed to Kick Off Sundance


Yesterday's 2010 Sundance Film Festival lineup announcement came bundled with one major change, and that's that they'd forgo the tradition of an opening night gala screening, to "instead focus on launching the total program: one narrative film, one documentary and one shorts program will play the first Thursday (January 21), beginning the roll out of the competitions," according to the press release.

The original plan, however, may not have been to break with tradition. Talking yesterday to first-time director Scott Cooper -- whose Crazy Heart was rushed into release by Fox Searchlight to qualify it for an Oscar run -- Movieline learned that the film was originally slated to be this year's Sundance curtain raiser.

"It got into Telluride, Venice, Toronto -- all those festivals," Cooper told Movieline. "And they asked us to open the Sundance Festival next month. Before Fox bought it, Telluride had already invited us. Then Fox bought it, and we waited. We didn't take it to any of those festivals. Which maybe is serendipitous, although a lot of these other films get buzz coming out of festivals."

True, the story of Jeff Bridges' honky-tonk redemption as "unofficial fifth Outlaw" Bad Blake, as Cooper puts it, seems the perfect, Sundance-sized story to kick off the festivities. On the other hand, Cooper may have dodged a bullet, the opening slot being something of independent film's answer to the Bermuda Triangle, from which titles like Mary & Max, Chicago 10, and Friends With Money are never heard again. Another bright side: It lightens the load for festival goers, opening up a prime patch of scheduling real estate to perhaps squeeze in a screening of Chasidic candy-flipping fantasia, Holy Rollers.

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