Netflix has picked up The Other Side of the Wind, the final project of legendary Citizen Kane director Orson Welles, The New York Times reports.
Netflix’s involvement was rumored for nearly a year before this announcement. There was also speculation that Netflix was simultaneously working on a documentary about the film’s belated completion, but that has not been confirmed.
The Other Side of the Wind was left unfinished following Welles’ death in 1985, but seemed like it was close to becoming a reality when the production company Royal Road Entertainment bought the rights in May 2015. The production team, led by actor Peter Bogdanovich (who had a supporting role in the film) and frequent Spielberg collaborator Frank Marshall, then launched a funding campaign on Indiegogo. The campaign raised $400,000 of its $2 million goal (eventually scaled back to $1 million), with the filmmakers listing fairly specific uses for the money — hiring Winter’s Bone editor Affonso Gonçalves, scanning the original negatives in 4K, and scoring the film.
But many fans who contributed to the project were understandably angry when it seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere — this is the first anyone’s heard since last summer. It’s not totally clear what happened to that $400,000 if Netflix is now picking up the bill and easing the way for the filmmakers, but the producers told The New York Times that the long period of radio silence happened because the team had to “take a step back” and redo the rights-purchasing process in order to bring the movie to Netflix.
The Other Side of the Wind is about an Ernest Hemingway-inspired character who tries to relaunch his Hollywood career with a stylish art film for youths that ends up being bad. It was apparently intended by Welles to be a diss on another filmmaker, Michelangelo Antonioni. Welles also intended to film a second part to the movie, where he gathered Hollywood elites to watch the first part at a dinner party. It sounds, no offense, absolutely asinine, but I suppose we’ll see.
Producer Filip Jan Rymsza said he isn’t working toward a specific release date, “We are really going to focus on just finishing the film. And, again, what makes Netflix such a great partner is that they are going to give us the time to do so.” And for buffs who might care, the team also mentioned that there will be a 35mm version of the film available for theaters to screen.
Netflix will produce and distribute the film, with edits done in accordance with Welles’ personal notebooks. According to the NYT report, the original footage has already been shipped from Paris to Los Angeles.