Lewis Gilbert‘s Damn The Defiant!, a British-produced tale of a 1790s mutiny aboard a British warship, opened in England on 4.15.62, and then in the U.S. in late September. Two and a half months later Lewis Milestone‘s Mutiny on the Bounty, a bigger, American-financed, star-driven stirring of the same basic ingredients, opened in reserved-seat theatres. Mutiny was a bust ($13.7 million gross vs. $19 million in negative costs) but it sold more tickets and attracted a lot more attention than poor Damn The Defiant!, which was regarded as an also-ran even though it beat Bounty to the box-office by several weeks.
A similar dynamic is affecting a pair of upcoming Winston Churchill dramas. Jonathan Teplitzsky‘s British-produced Churchill, will open on 6.2.17 in the U.S. and 6.17 in England. Nearly six months later Joe Wright‘s Darkest Hour, a seemingly bigger, brassier, possibly more dimensionalized Churchill drama with Gary Oldman in the title role, will open stateside via Focus Features.
You know that Wright’s film is going to blow away Teplitzsky’s in terms of press attention, award-season heat and ticket sales. Then again you can’t dismiss Brian Cox, whose Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter was just as malevolent as Anthony Hopkins‘ in The Silence of the Lambs. Cox does it first, and then another actor with bigger backing redefines.