The simultaneous French theatrical release of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, coinciding with its premiere as the closing night film of the Cannes Film Festival, will go ahead as planned, its French distributor Ocean Films Distribution has confirmed to Screen.
The picture’s release had been in doubt amid an ongoing, acrimonious legal battle between Paris-based Portuguese producer Paulo Branco and producers at France’s Kinology as well as Tornasol Films and Carisco Producciones in Spain over who owns rights to the production.
Ocean Films co-chief Phillippe Aigle said that the feature had received the necessary “exploitation visa” from the National Cinema Centre (CNC) on Thursday afternoon, allowing the release of the title to proceed on May 19.
“It came through about an hour ago,” Aigle told Screen at 5:30pm Cannes time.
Aigle said the film would be released on 300 screens across France at 8:00pm to coincide with the closing night screen.
“We’re eager to share the film with all those cinephiles who love Terry Gilliam’s work at the same time as it will be playing in Cannes,” said Aigle.
The delivery of the visa came some 24 hours after a Paris court ruled against Branco in his bid to get an injunction to prevent the Cannes premiere of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
Branco had accused the festival of flying in the face of the law by programming the picture as its closing film before the issue of who owns rights to the production was fully resolved. A final court ruling is due in Paris on June 15.
In the backdrop, Branco released a statement earlier in the day saying that Thursday’s court ruling had decided not to forbid the screening “in order not to handicap the film’s commercial potential”.
It continued that the court had confirmed the “entirety of the rights held by Mr. Branco on the film,” and added that for that reason the film would have to screen with “a warning card reminding that Paulo Branco and Alfama Films still have rights regarding the film”.
The statement also suggested that the ruling had upheld Branco’s assertion that Ocean Films does not have right to show the film.
Aigle laughed off Branco’s claims saying they had no foundation.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he now tries to sue the CNC,” he said.
Final Word from the Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival also issued a statement on the ruling on Thursday in which it said that Branco’s attempts to claim compensation from the festival had also been thrown out by the court.
“Things are looking up for Terry Gilliam’s film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Yesterday, on Wednesday 9 May 2018, the French court dismissed the request by Paulo Branco and his production company Alfama Films Production to ban the film from being screened during the Closing night of the Festival de Cannes, on Saturday 19 May.
“As such, Paulo Branco and his production company Alfama Films Production have, naturally, seen their claim for compensation from the Cannes Film Festival thrown out, having openly denigrated the event in the press and on social media, asserting that its organisers had no right to select The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to be presented in Cannes.”
The festival said it was delighted that “this unique – and in some ways agonising work in the career of the great director Terry Gilliam will be unveiled for the first time to journalists, festival-goers and professionals from around the world, gathered together in the Grand Amphithéâtre Lumière.”