Ten days ago I complained about IFC Films not having decided on a release date for Oliver Assayas‘ Personal Shopper. Today I wrote the following to IFC Films honcho Jonathan Sehring plus their publicity staff:
“If you ask me Personal Shopper is a knockout — an artful, unusual, arguably groundbreaking Kristen Stewart spooker. Unless there’s something wrong with me it seems (and please tell me if you think I’m wrong) like an obvious Halloween attraction. You guys have had it since Cannes, where Assayas won the Best Director trophy (shared with Cristian Mungiu). It’s won rave reviews from key critics, has landed a NYFF berth, and is opening in England and other European territories (UK, France, Belgium) at the end of ’16. And you still haven’t given it a U.S. release date.
“This is the first Kristen Stewart film with a supernatural atmosphere since the Twilight saga, and it’s at least five times better than all the Twilight films put together, and yet you seem unsure about its potential. If you were going to release Personal Shopper in late October you surely would have announced that by now. Halloween is only ten weeks away so I guess we know the answer.
“You’re presumably uncertain because it drew a divided critical response in Cannes. For me this is one of the best films of the year so far (it’s my second favorite after Manchester by the Sea), and yet you haven’t settled on a damn release date. Two months ago I was told that you were thinking of bumping it into the late winter or spring of ’17. If you’re going to bail on a fall release, would you at least confirm this?
“If the April 2017 thing is true or even a possibility, I can only guess that the delayed date may have been suggested to allow Assayas time to fix the ending. That’s the only explanation that makes any sense — you’ve said to him it needs fixing and he wants to do extra shooting to fix it or re-cut it. Or something like that.
“If you guys have decided to keep the same ending (i.e., the one that resulted in all the Cannes boos), fine. I loved the version I saw in Cannes. But if you’re sticking with it, it seems nuts that you’d want to wait until April ’17 to release it. Why would you want to wait another 7 1/2 or eight months to show one of the most striking and provocative films of 2016?
“A marketing consultant told me a while back that IFC is waiting for festival reactions from Toronto and NYFF to what’s what. Well, the Cannes reactions made it clear there will be strong reactions pro and con. There will be great pro and con passion. And so what?”