I Melt With You Director Mark Pellington Shrugs Off Chilly Sundance Reception
Although it wasn't quite as universally panned as Dito Montiel's Son of No One, and no one lost it and shouted at the filmmakers in a post-screening rant, Mark Pellington's dark bromantic thriller I Melt with You was the most controversially-received film at this year's Sundance Film Festival to land a distribution deal. (Read Movieline's assessment of the film and its disastrous first screening.) Hours after it was announced that Magnolia Pictures would release the polarizing film, Movieline caught up with Pellington and screenwriter Glenn Porter to discuss how they've been processing the negative reviews, how the deal with Magnolia went down, and what kind of tweaks will be made to the film before its theatrical release.
Pellington and Porter, who were tracking reviews as they hit the Web the morning of their premiere, take said critiques with a grain of salt: "I don't blame people for having a point of view, and if writing is their job that's fine," said Porter. "And if they didn't see what were trying to do, that's how it works. That's life."
Pellington's grown a thick skin when it comes to his critics: "You know, I've suffered horrible reviews before for The Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road... no filmmaker ever walks the line that doesn't get touched. So you have a thick skin. Believe the good ones, and you've got to read the bad ones. You can't just read the good ones. And there is no good or bad, there just is. You had this experience with it, you wrote this."
Magnolia's offer came in following the first press and industry screening of I Melt with You (AKA the one with all the walkouts), who beat at least two other interested parties to the punch and grabbed it prior to its public Sundance premiere: "I only had one conversation with Magnolia last night, when our sales team said there were three people who were interested and we were going to wait until after the premiere," Pellington recalled. "But Magnolia really wanted it now, and then we sat with them; it was important that I understood what they were about and what kind of movie they thought they were getting. They dug it for all the right reasons."
The most likely changes will be to the film's punk/New Wave/'80s soundtrack: "I'm going to have to tweak it a little bit because of the music. I'm not going to be able to afford all of it, but I'd say most of them. We're going to have to earmark a lot of our bread just for the music, and let the foreign sales and whatever it does on Demand put the money in our pockets. The music is an important aspect of it." But don't expect any drastic changes beyond song licensing. "I'll see how I feel tomorrow morning after I go to the screening, but I'm pretty happy with it. Magnolia wasn't clamoring for edits. They weren't like, 'We have to cut it down to 90 minutes so we can get it into the multiplex'; there isn't that restriction.
The most important takeaway from Pellington's controversial Sundance 2011 showing: "As a filmmaker, the most important thing is survival. You want to keep making movies. You don't want to get so eviscerated, or have the perception of it, that you have a harder time making a film. Even if it's a small budget; this was a tiny, tiny budget. I could go raise a million dollars tomorrow and we could start shooting in six weeks."
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