Natalie Portman’s upcoming western Jane Got a Gun has been rife with backstage drama from the very beginning. The film first lost its original director (We Need To Talk About Kevin helmer Lynne Ramsay) on the first day of production, and then a trio of leading men (Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper) dropped out. A reshuffling of directors and cast amidst various lawsuits, Jane Got a Gun was able to complete production. Two weeks ago, we reported that it also lost its original release date– distributor partners Relatively Media and The Weinstein Company first dated the troubled movie for August 29, 2014. Relativity moved Jane Got a Gun in favor of Pierce Brosnan’s thriller November Man, but it seems par for the course for a film that has struggled from the start. Now, according to Variety it’s been given a second release date– February 20, 2015– one that will hopefully stick.
It’s nearly a shame for a movie that on the surface appeared to have so much potential going for it will have to carry such a heavy load of baggage sight unseen. Especially considering it’s a western (a typically male-dominated genre) headlined by a leading actress (Portman not only stars in the film but is one of the producers as well) in her first major starring role since winning the Academy Award for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. However, in the film industry often times perception matters above anything else and delays in production and release dates seldom mean good fortune regardless of actual quality. Even more so, a film moved to the first quarter of the calendar year typically smells a certain dread or gloom. Amidst the drama, Warrior director Gavin O’Connor came aboard and finished the film with a revised cast that included Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton and Rodrigo Santoro. The film focuses on a woman who asks an ex-lover to help her outlaw husband from a bloody thirty gang. Brian Duffield wrote the screenplay and Anthony Tambakis (Warrior) provided a re-write.
Some films have ducked that trend, becoming successful and even critically respected while opening in the often chilly early months of the year; for example, Paramount Pictures pushed back Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island from an awards qualifying release in late 2009 for a less crowded February 2010 release and the film ended up becoming one of the famed auteur’s best selling films. Usually, however, it’s a sign that there may be a lack of confidence on the part of the distributor. The wait continues and hopefully Jane Got a Gun can survive the latest blow.