Robert Eggers was one of the biggest indie breakouts of 2015 thanks to his directorial debut “The Witch,” a period horror film that dazzled Sundance and went on to gross over $40 million worldwide on a $4 million budget. The film’s box office dominance was thanks to A24, but not everything the indie distributor did went over well with Eggers. While chatting with Ari Aster on the latest episode of the A24 “Deep Cuts” podcast, Eggers shared a story about how one marketing trick got him into some hot water in Poland.
“So we didn’t have any stars for ‘The Witch,'” Eggers said. “A24 felt they needed something special for marketing, and they wanted to have the Satanic Temple endorse the film. I don’t have anything against the Satanic Temple or their political agenda or anything like that at all, but I didn’t want the movie endorsed by the Satanic Temple like I wouldn’t want it being endorsed by something that called itself Christ’s Temple either. And I have tons of personal philosophical, semi-spiritual reasons for not wanting this, and also, I said, ‘People are going to think I’m a fucking Satanist.'”
A24 did not listen to Eggers and went ahead and promoted the film with the Satanic Temple. It turns out Eggers’ fear was justified, as people actually became convinced that he was a Satanist. Sometime later, the writer-director was scouting locations for a new film and faced a roadblock in Poland because he was an alleged Satanist.
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“The woman who was running the film office said, ‘We don’t want Robert Eggers coming to Poland because he’s a Satanist.’ So we had to spend a week convincing them that I wasn’t a Satanist before I could go scout in Poland.”
Eggers is returning to the big screen later this year with “The Lighthouse,” his first directorial effort since breaking out with “The Witch” four years ago. The director’s latest, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as lighthouse keepers who became psychological rivals, world premiered to rave reviews at Cannes earlier this year in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar (read IndieWire’s A- review here). “The Lighthouse” reunites Eggers with A24, which will release the psychodrama sometime in the fall.