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Cannes 2011: Lars von Trier's 'Melancholia' could get a release-plan tweak

May 19, 2011 |  7:03 pm


How’s this for the ultimate film-marketing nightmare? You’re the Israeli distributor of Lars von Trier's “Melancholia.”

That’s the problem faced by Shani Films, the company that had bought and been all ready to release the director's new movie.  Three days ago, it hardly seemed unwise: You had a movie with a sci-fi element and actors that travel, like Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. And Shani had experience with Von Trier's work: It had released his 2006 workplace comedy, "The Boss of It All," in Israel.

Hardly unwise, that is, until Von Trier went and made some very badly received comments about Nazis and Jews.

According to one source who was briefed on the discussions but asked not to be identified because of their proprietary nature, TrustNordisk, the Danish film entity that has been handling international rights for the picture, has offered Shani the opportunity to revert the rights and be reimbursed the fees it paid. It is not yet known if Shani will accept the offer.

(In America, Von Trier's film is scheduled to be released by Magnolia Pictures, a subsidiary of Mark Cuban's entertainment empire, in the fall. As of Thursday night, an executive told 24 Frames all plans to release the film remained on track.) Spokesmen for Shani and TrustNordisk were not immediately available for comment.

Shani may not be the only distributor to be given a refund deal: One source familiar with TrustNorskisk’s plans said distributors in several other countries could soon be receiving the same offer.

Chalk up one more bizarre occurrence at this year's Cannes Film Festival to Von Trier: He's helped introduce the notion of film-rights refunds.


Cannes 2011: in interview, Lars von Trier says he doesn't deserve to win the Palme d'Or

Cannes 2011: Lars von Trier retracts statement about Nazis

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 4 -- Did Lars von Trier go too far?

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Melancholia." Credit: TrustNordisk