In a piece about the various financial comings and goings at Cannes, Anne Thompson has revealed specifics about the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer’s ambitious, Tom Hanks-led adaptation of David Mitchell’s multi-tiered “Cloud Atlas,” which screened on Wednesday for international buyers, including details on its running time and domestic release date.
Thompson first mentions the interesting details surrounding the film’s funding – initially the Wachowskis and Tykwer proposed that Warner Bros. finance the entire film (this was the studio, after all, that bankrolled the Wachowskis’ hugely successful “Matrix” films and considerably less successful “Speed Racer”). Warner Bros. passed, gawking at the $170 million production budget, and when they did, the directorial trio got lean (which included getting mega-budget stars like Hanks for peanuts), slimmed the budget down to $101 million, secured financing overseas, and according to Thompson, “got the movie made the way the Wachowskis and Tykwer wanted it on foreign pre-sales.” Oh, and Warner Bros. bought the domestic distribution rights for $20 million – nothing like having your cake and getting to eat it too, for a fraction of the price.
Thompson is reporting that the film clocks in at 2 hours and 44 minutes, which Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov let slide despite a contractual obligation to have the film come in at 2 and a half hours (or less). Quite frankly we’re amazing that the movie is that short – the novel, which cannot be recommended enough, consists of six interlocking stories that ripple out from one another and interweave in astounding ways (the stories cover everything from a paperback-y seventies thriller to a poetically post-apocalyptic tale of survival). In short: it’s a fucking epic. The script came in at well over 200 pages as well, so clearly a lot of trimming's been done.
What’s more, a stateside release date is being reported, with Warner Bros. opening the film in America on December 6th. This release date (in prime Oscar territory), along with the lax approach to the running time, indicates to us that the film is really, really good, and the fact that the movie is already finished means that Warner Bros. can screen it earlier and get the buzz rolling.