Negative for legendary film had been stored in Paris for four decades.
Ray Kelly writes: After more than 40 years of failed attempts and missed opportunities, Orson Welles’ unfinished The Other Side of the Wind will be completed and streamed to 93 million Netflix subscribers worldwide.
The 1,083 reels of negative footage, dailies, rushes and other materials ― once housed by LTC Laboratories outside Paris — were flown to Los Angeles on Monday, March 13, for a 4K scanning by Technicolor, according to Filip Jan Rymsza, who is producing the movie alongside Frank Marshall. The latter was a line producer on the 1970s shoot. Director Peter Bogdanovich, who co-starred in the film and was tasked by Welles to complete it in the event of his death, will consult on the editing.
“Everything is signed. All the deals are fully closed, both the Netflix deal and all of the rights deals,” Rymsza told Wellesnet. “Everything we have done for the past year and a half has been grueling, but that’s finally over and now we get to be creative and finally bring this film to life.”
Marshall, who has worked toward the film’s completion for decades, thanked Netflix in a statement, saying “I can’t quite believe it, but after 40 years of trying, I am so very grateful for the passion and perseverance from Netflix that has enabled us to, at long last, finally get into the cutting room to finish Orson’s last picture.”
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos added, “Like so many others who grew up worshipping the craft and vision of Orson Welles, this is a dream come true. The promise of being able to bring to the world this unfinished work of Welles with his true artistic intention intact, is a point of pride for me and for Netflix.”
A U.S. Customs inspection at LAX is currently underway and the footage could arrive at Technicolor’s lab in Hollywood by the end of the week. All of the 35mm, 16mm and 8mm footage and sound elements will be digitalized.
“The same day (the footage arrives at Technicolor), we start scanning,” said Rymsza, who will be on hand for that next step in the process. “There is no lag. We hit the ground running.”
Welles began filming The Other Side of the Wind in August 1970, finished principal photography in January 1976, and struggled to complete the movie until his death in October 1985. He was stymied by issues ranging from IRS woes to the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the negative remained locked away in Paris.
In the years after Welles’ death, his cameraman, Gary Graver, who died in 2006, and cast member and author Joseph McBride worked with Showtime to finish the movie. But, they failed to broker a deal acceptable to the Welles Estate and the film’s co-owners, Welles’ companion, Oja Kodar, and Les Films de l’Astrophore led by the late Mehdi Boushehri, brother-in-law of the Shah of Iran. (The saga was extensively reported in Josh Karp’s book Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind.
Rymsza, whose involvement dates back seven years, acquired the rights held by Les Films de l’Astrophore. He embarked on negotiations with Beatrice Welles, who oversees her father’s estate; and Kodar, who was represented in talks by her nephew Sasha Welles.
It has been a roller coaster ride for both fans and the parties involved. Hopes for the film’s release were buoyed after a front page story in The New York Times on October 29, 2014 trumpeted an agreement between Kodar and the producers. But problems arose as producers hunted for a suitable distributor and Kodar’s payment was delayed. Undaunted, Rymsza pressed on, raising $406,405 toward editing the footage through a spring 2015 Indiegogo campaign and months later bringing Netflix on board at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
What followed was nearly 18 months of complex renegotiations on rights and global distribution with Kodar, which came to fruition with a deal signed by the parties in late February 2017.
Rymsza described that year-and-a-half period as a “small step back to take a giant leap forward,” adding that “this was what was best for the film. We were not going to rush something or go into a distribution deal just because it was a shortcut if it was not in the best, long-term interest of the film.”. … (read more)