The Los Angeles Times‘ John Horn wrote an extensively informative piece this weekend on Kenneth Lonergan’s “Margaret,” which wrapped production in the fall of 2005 and has yet to see the light of day. The $12.6 million film was developed and financed by Fox Searchlight, and is now the subject of two different lawsuits. “‘Margaret’ has turned into a nightmarish production that has devolved into a bitter court fight,” Horn said. “Despite ‘Margaret’s’ initial promise, it is now uncertain when Lonergan’s movie, which was filmed more than three years ago, will ever make it to theaters.”
Horn explains that while movie studio shelves are filled with troubled projects that have been on hold for various reasons, the rarity of “Margaret” is its pedigree. Beyond Lonergan himself (who wrote and directed his acclaimed directorial debut “You Can Count On Me”), the film features big-name actors like Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo and Anna Paquin, and an all-star producing team that includes Oscar winners Scott Rudin and the late Sydney Pollack. According to one of the two lawsuits currently being pitted against the film, the reason “Margaret” hasn’t come out yet is that Lonergan can’t finish the film.
“Because of the litigation and a confidentiality agreement among the lawyers, all of the principals central to the film declined to be interviewed for this story,” Horn explains. “But conversations with a dozen people close to or familiar with the production, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, painted a picture of an endless post-production cycle that left Lonergan and [financier Gary] Gilbert clashing and Fox Searchlight sitting on what might be an unreleasable movie. A number of producers and editors — including Rudin, Pollack and Martin Scorsese’s legendary editor, Thelma Schoonmaker — have tried but failed to help Lonergan complete his movie, court documents and interviews show.”
The aforementioned lawsuits are scheduled to be tried in June and September. In July of 2008, Fox Searchlight sued Gilbert and his production company, claiming that :he failed to pay the studio half of the film’s production costs.” Two months later, Gilbert’s Camelot Pictures sued Fox Searchlight and Lonergan, “alleging that the studio and Lonergan thwarted Gilbert’s many attempts to finish the movie,” forcing Camelot to pay for “a clearly inferior and unmarketable film” that Lonergan, several people say, will not support.
Horn claims that while Fox Searchlight hopes the legal fighting can be resolved soon, so that the distrib can submit the movie to film festivals, one Fox executive says that, given all the problems with the film, “the studio likes to pretend ‘Margaret’ never happened.” Read the full story here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story accidentally omitted a link to Horn’s story, which has since been corrected. Our apologies.