By now, most of you have heard that the latest film by polarizing horror writer-director Eli Roth, The Green Inferno, has been scrubbed from its September 5th opening date, making its release at all questionable. This is more an issue of the behind-the-scenes business than any reflection of the film’s quality, by all accounts. So, what the hell happened?
Open Road is the distributor for the film, and the decision of when and how to release is theirs. The reason for their decision to pull the film is largely based on the advertising budget of the movie. Print and advertising, often referred to simply as P & A, is a huge cost, but essential in the marketing of a film you expect to do well in theaters. In the cases of big-budget films like the recent Guardians of the Galaxy, you can estimate that marketing costs are measured in tens of millions of dollars. For a lower-profile film like The Green Inferno, the producers must rely on a distributor to pay for these costs, or secure the cost of P & A from a different source. In the case of The Green Inferno, the film’s finance company, Worldview Entertainment, had agreed ahead of time to pay for P & A costs, a generous offer to be sure and attractive to any distribution company.
Unfortunately, Worldview went through a big shake-up in recent months. At the beginning of June, Worldview CEO Christopher Woodrow stepped down unexpectedly, followed quickly by accusations of ‘personal misconduct.’ Misconduct is generally associated with manipulation of funds or flat-out embezzlement, though no actual charges have been made, and everything can fall under the heading ‘alleged’ at the moment. Woodrow’s commitment to provide P & A costs left with him, and, suddenly, Roth’s film had distribution with no marketing, a death sentence for any film going to theaters with no P & A budget behind it.
Open Road, unwilling to pay for P & A themselves (or not without a pause to determine cost-benefit on the notion) pulled The Green Inferno, and rumors are rampant that someone will step in to fund the film’s marketing budget needs.
Regardless, The Green Inferno is in a state of limbo, now, and horror fans must wait a little longer to see Roth’s latest. Here’s hoping it’s worth the wait.