It’s been a good month for Darren Aronofsky. Just days before “The Whale” won Oscars for Brendan Fraser and his makeup and hairstyling team, Aronofsky’s debut feature “Pi” received an IMAX re-release from A24. Aronofsky oversaw the restoration, which used a technique known as black and white reversal to transfer the film to 8K without losing its trademark graininess. It was a full-circle moment for the director, and was only possible because he negotiated a clause with the film’s original distributors that gave the film back to him after 25 years.
In a new interview with Uproxx, Aronofsky reflected on the original negotiations that led him to regain the rights to his debut feature. He credits another independent filmmaking legend, Jim Jarmusch, with pioneering the business model that allowed him to do so.
“It happened because, it was very much like this socialist pact amongst the filmmakers where I, as the director, had the same amount of ownership as anyone who worked on the film for that length of time,” Aronofsky said. “So when we went to Sundance, I was really in awe of Jim Jarmusch, who always basically got his films back after seven years. He would finance them out of Japan in places and then just licensed them for under a decade. And so when we started making the contract, I was like, nope, we’ve got to get it back. We’ve got to get it back. And I was so annoying about it. Eventually, the head of the studio was like, ‘Fine, give it back to him in 25 years.’ And so it was always in back of my head. So it was just that.”
Looking back, Aronofsky can see the absurdity of asking for such a filmmaker-friendly deal on his debut feature. But now that 25 years have gone by and his plan went off without a hitch, he appears content to enjoy his good luck.
“I was in no position,” he said. “No position. We only had one company, Artisan was bidding on it at the time. There was no one else that was bidding on it. So we didn’t really have any leverage. But it was just an important point. There were a few important points that we wanted to make sure would happen and we kind of stuck to our gun and we were lucky that they decided to honor them.”