After the runaway success of “True Grit,” which nabbed a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide, you’d figure Joel and Ethan Coen would cash in their chips with a major studio, try to get something expensive made, or force the major studios to pony up prior to shooting. The Coens haven’t operated independently for awhile, as a distributor has been in place for their last few films before the project was even shot. This time, however, the brothers are doing something different: out of the Toronto International Film Festival, the rumor is that the Coens’ latest, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” will be filmed without a domestic distributor attached, with only Studio Canal backing the picture for international rights.
Joel and Ethan’s next project showcases the rise of the folk scene in Greenwich Village, New York during the 1960s, an approach that necessitates an exacting attention to detail and idiosyncrasies. Shooting is set to start early next year, and old friend Scott Rudin is producing, but otherwise, this is brave new territory for the most accomplished filmmaking team of their generation. Studio Canal chief Olivier Courson claims the script is like “The Big Lebowski,” and while the film is a major favorite today amongst Coen lovers, many forget that upon its initial release that critics and audiences truly rejected the film.
Given the Coens’ intriguing track record of crowd-pleasers versus crowd-alienators (“The Big Lebowski” was not the first, or last Coen film, to leave mainstream audiences scratching their heads), it’s interesting that, if this film is one of their more abstract pictures, they’ll have to rely on their names to sell the project to a distributor. In the end, this shouldn’t be difficult for a duo that have won every major award and are coming off a major box office hit, but you know there’s going to be some egghead executive trumpeting the need for clear marketing and the possibility of “F” Cinemascores.