After not showing at Cannes or Venice, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life did screen at Telluride: but only six people saw the cut-down movie (two hours, 15 minutes) at two separate screenings for Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight, which landed the picture. The Tree of Life is inspiring raves from the few who’ve seen it (they use words like “cinema-changing”). Even though the film boasts stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, that does not mean that it will be anything but an art house success d’estime. But Searchlight is willing to give it their best shot, which is usually pretty damned good.
Searchlight did have to pay something up front and make a marketing commitment to get the movie, which will NOT be released by the end of the year. The question is, can Summit convince all the territories that bought the film to hold on to their hats and wait to release it before the movie launches at a major film festival? Sundance’s John Cooper wants it. Berlin and Cannes want it too. So will it be January, February or May? That is the question.