The Return of “Donnie Darko”; Newmarket Plans Release of Director’s Cut
by Eugene Hernandez
Newmarket Films is planning a re-release of Richard Kelly‘s “Donnie Darko,” however this time the company will screen the film’s director’s cut. Newmarket will premiere the new edition, which is 20 minutes longer, at the Seattle Film Festival on May 29 followed by a test theatrical release in the Seattle area and perhaps an expansion to other cities, according to company president Bob Berney.
Based on the film’s success at midnight screenings and on DVD, Berney and the his partners at Newmarket decided to invest in this new version of the film. “At minimum it will have a whole new midnight circuit,” Berney explained, “And at best it might have a wider teen audience — we could go pretty wide.” He added that the film has made nearly $10 million on its DVD release alone. The film became such a cult hit that it has played in midnight screenings in several cities (including a long, continuing run at New York’s Pioneer Theater in the East Village) for years.
Richard Kelly wrote and directed “Donnie Darko,” which was released by Newmarket in late October 2001. It debuted at Sundance to some choice critical notices, including a rave review in indieWIRE, calling the movie, “Not merely the salvation of the moribund teen pic genre but a square-peg adolescent classic to rank up there with ‘Rushmore’ and ‘Say Anything’.”
“A Sundance surprise in a year that craves fresh young voices more than ever, Richard Kelly’s ‘Donnie Darko’ is that almost unheard of example of an indie-minded production — with garish special effects, no less — that isn’t spoiled by the Hollywood forces that helped birth it,” wrote Andy Bailey in indieWIRE. “It won’t be easy to market, but this furiously inventive debut eases into the new Sundance with remarkable aplomb, decimating nearly everything in its path.”
“Donnie Darko” is described by Newmarket as “one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager who takes Time’s Arrow for a ride.” The description continues, “October 2nd, 1988: just another ordinary day in Donnie Darko’s teen-age existence. He’s taken his medication, watched Dukakis and Bush debate, and had dinner with the family. Then an outrageous accident occurs, which just misses claiming Donnie’s life. As Donnie begins to explore what it means to still be alive, and in short order to be in love, he uncovers secrets of the universe that give him a tempting power to alter time and destiny.” The new version of the film includes, according to Newmarket, 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage, new visual effects, and new music.
Newmarket, which released “Donnie Darko” through a service deal with IFC Films while Berney was IFC’s head of distribution, will now aggressively push the movie in local Seattle urban and suburban theaters. Berney told indieWIRE that he will even pursue TV commercials to market the film to younger audiences. “It could be that later we go wider everywhere,” Berney said.
“Donnie Darko” was produced by Sean McKittrick, Nancy Juvonen, and Adam Fields, and executive produced by Drew Barrymore, Hunt Lowry, Casey La Scala, William Tyrer, Chris Ball and Aaron Ryder and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“I am incredibly grateful to Newmarket for this opportunity to re-release ‘Donnie Darko,'” said Kelly in a statement. “Even though I am proud of the theatrical version of the film, I’ve always felt that the story was somewhat compromised in order to come in under two hours. With this version I feel like I’ve finally been able to complete the film. There is a lot of new content that has never been seen before.”