After years of stops and starts, near-misses and almost-disasters, legal snafus and financial mishaps, Terry Gilliam’s plagued passion project “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is finally bound for U.S. release. Screen Media has picked up the North American rights to the film, starring Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard, Olga Kurylenko, and Jordi Molla.
The company, in partnership with Fathom Events, is planning a national theatrical release for March 2019. After nearly 25 years of attempts to make the film, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” had its world premiere as the closing night selection at Cannes 2018. (And, of course, that only happened after a last-minute legal battle nearly felled Gilliam’s hopes to screen the film at the annual event.)
At one time, the film was set to be distributed by Amazon, after it committed significant financing to the feature, which draws inspiration from Spaniard Miguel de Cervantes’ two-part novel, “Don Quixote.” Last May, however, the streaming powerhouse pulled out of the deal, just days after Gilliam reportedly suffered a stroke and as the French legal battle was unfolding.
Per the film’s official synopsis: “Toby (Driver), a frustrated filmmaker and disillusioned advertising executive, becomes pulled into a world of time jumping fantasy when a Spanish cobbler (Pryce) who believes he is Don Quixote, mistakes Toby for his trusted squire Sancho Panza. Pulled further into the cobbler’s world, Toby gradually becomes unable to tell his dreams from reality.”
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Directed and written by Gilliam, the film is co-written by Tony Grisoni and produced by Mariela Besuievsky, Amy Gilliam, Gerardo Herrero, and Gregoire Melin.
At the Cannes Film Festival, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote of the film: “This is a more personal work than anything in Gilliam’s oeuvre to date, an indictment of the capitalist forces exploiting storytellers and the self-involved creatives swept up in the madness. … It’s sloppy and amateurish in parts, but always reaching for something, often resulting in a fascinating half-formed beast working through a lot of baggage: a vanity project about the nature of vanity, centered around one of literature’s most famous examples, in the context of the most famous vanity projects of all time coming to fruition.”
David Fannon, President of Screen Media, said in a statement: “Terry Gilliam is a true auteur and his latest film does not disappoint. It is the perfect pairing of a film with a filmmaker, the story of Don Quixote, a man who believes in things that seemingly no one else believes in, until finally, they share his vision. Screen Media is thrilled that U.S. audiences will finally get to see Terry Gilliam’s quest.”
Gilliam’s decades of challenges surrounding the project were chronicled in the 2002 documentary “Lost in La Mancha.” A sequel entitled “He Dreams of Giants” — from the same directors, Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe — was produced last year and is expected to screen at festivals in 2019.