‘Button’ didn’t happen

Posted by · 6:24 pm · November 20th, 2008

Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button(Alright, I’m coming back to this item now that I don’t have to deal with iPhone-posting.)

Tonight’s screening of “The Curious Case at Benjamin Button” was supposed to be a great night for producers Kathy Kennedy and Frank Marshall (correction appended — it was a late night, apologies).  They introduced the film as a project 18 years in the making, a true labor of love, and the crowd of press, guild members and industry types sure was excited.

About a half hour into the screening, D.P. Claudio Miranda had had enough.  Apparently a color channel on the digital projector was faulty and wasn’t going to be fixed any time soon.  The image looked washed out but in a stylized way, so none of us really noticed.  But it was painful for Miranda to watch.  Publicists put the call into director David Fincher, who was on his way to the theater for a post-screening Q&A, and he made the decision: pull the plug.

The audience was understandably agitated.  “Come on, it looks beautiful,” one chimed in.  But they all knew Miranda would have felt terrible showing his film in that fashion (and talking to some who’d see the film already, there was a considerable difference, as well as a sound quality issue afoot).  “Don’t do it,” another guy said, siding with Miranda and clearly a below-the-line guy that gets it.  When your art and your craft is compromised out of the gate, it’s better to cut your losses.

The good news is, I hear the same thing happened to “The Pianist” and “Dances with Wolves” for their first big industry screenings.  So maybe you do get a second chance to make a first impression.  The SAG screening went swimmingly over at the Arclight, by the way, so there is that.  But on the whole, what a bummer.  Next to “The Dark Knight,” this had become my most anticipated film of the year.

All of that said, I think we liked what we saw.  And after just 30 minutes, I’m pretty sure the film will take the Oscars for Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects walking away.  Pure magic.

Saturday we’ll all get a second chance.  These things happen, I guess.

→ 29 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

29 responses so far

  • 1 11-20-2008 at 8:31 pm

    Robert Cameron said...

    Wait, what? You mean to say the the cinematographer halted the screening? I don’t entirely understand how that could happen.

  • 2 11-20-2008 at 9:00 pm

    Cat said...

    It’s because a color channel was out on the projector. As an artist, I can understand not wanting the film to be shown unless it was shown in it’s full glory. It’s better that the screening was halted. That theater needs to get their **** together and check up on their projectors!

  • 3 11-20-2008 at 10:43 pm

    Felix said...

    What a bummer! Kris, any word from the SAG screening?

  • 4 11-20-2008 at 11:00 pm

    John Y. said...

    That’s why you don’t show films digitally. I recall seeing “Sweeney Todd” projected digitally, which gave the whole movie an awkward green tinge.

    Still, that’s a bummer, Kris. I wonder if the “washed out” look is the fault of the projection or the style of the film, though. One of my complaints of “Zodiac” was how washed out everything looked, especially the exterior night shots. I’m sure it was a stylistic choice, but I also felt like Fincher’s switch to HD cameras had something to do with it. In a movie all about facts and the pursuit of truth, it was odd to see a San Francisco that didn’t look completely real.

  • 5 11-20-2008 at 11:52 pm

    Brian Kinsley said...

    Surely it’ll be disqualified for Best Make-Up because of all the CG?

  • 6 11-21-2008 at 3:07 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    That sure must be a bummer. Such an highly expected film cut off like that. I’ve never had that happen one me I think. Oh once, during TDK the commercials crashed, but that was not the main feature.

  • 7 11-21-2008 at 3:37 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    There is plenty of makeup work not affected by CG, Brian.

  • 8 11-21-2008 at 6:12 am

    John said...

    Yeah I heard that the Make-Up branch may not nominate it because of all the CG make-up. Not the case?

  • 9 11-21-2008 at 7:13 am

    AJ said...

    Well this is what happens when you privileged bloggers feel like you have a right to see a film early.

  • 10 11-21-2008 at 8:38 am

    Marshall said...

    I’m with Felix. I also want to know what you heard from the SAG screening.

  • 11 11-21-2008 at 9:39 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    AJ: Don’t be an asshole. That’s the second time you’ve written such a comment and you have no idea what you’re talking about. This was a guild screening, an industry screening, and press members were invited as well. No “privilege” to it, this is our fucking job.

    What a childish thing to say.

  • 12 11-21-2008 at 10:52 am

    Sound Designer Dan said...

    Hey Kris,
    Do you know if this was digitally projected at 4k or just 2k?

  • 13 11-21-2008 at 11:16 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I have no idea, Dan. Sorry man.

  • 14 11-21-2008 at 11:22 am

    Marshall said...

    I know this may be a little ridiculous since you only got through 30 min. But how was the script in the beginning? Did it make you excited to see the rest? Looking forward to hearing what you thought of the film after Saturday’s redo.

  • 15 11-21-2008 at 11:28 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I don’t want to comment on something like that. I have no basisto do so. All I can say is the film was being paced nicely and I was loving every minute of it. No shifting in the seat, no checking the watch. Just absorbed.

    And Blanchett’s performance as the older Daisy is probably going to put her in the hunt for an Oscar. I didn’t expect that kind of power but it was on point.

    But this is silly. I need to see the whole film. So I’ll just shut up until tomorrow afternoon. :)

  • 16 11-21-2008 at 11:40 am

    Marshall said...

    Understood. Thanks

  • 17 11-21-2008 at 11:41 am

    AJ said...

    It’s the second one? What was the first? I can’t remember, and was it me? There is more than one person in the world that uses AJ, although I suppose my hidden email you could have access to so you know it’s the same one. No need to use profanity. I wasn’t really talking about you either, you just get clumped in with the other bloggers. However, you do come off really defensive which doesn’t help your case. You really don’t know who I am so next time I suggest not being profane because you could be yelling at anyone. A producer? An actor? A studio chief? Lucky for you that I’m not because if I were you wouldn’t be invited to any of my studio’s screenings.

  • 18 11-21-2008 at 11:49 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    My case? Defensive? You’re telling me I’m acting like I have a right to see something early when I’m the last guy that’s guilty of that kind of stuff.

    I don’t call up publicists bitching about not being able to see a film, I don’t have a sense of entitlement, but believe me, a LOT of press types do. So you’ll just have to forgive me if a snide comment like yours, which was uncalled for and, again, childish (“this is what happens” — Jesus), rubs me the wrong way.

    Also, I’m not worried about yelling at a producer and actor OR a studio chief. None of them sign my checks. And none of them would take me off a screening invite list for something like this so, like I said, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The lesson here: think before you type.

  • 19 11-21-2008 at 1:07 pm

    AJ said...

    “I wasn’t really talking about you either, you just get clumped in with the other bloggers.”

    You had the first story about it that I saw, you got the first comment I wrote. I was coming back to add in that I wasn’t talking about you personally when I saw your comment and needed to rebut as well as sneak it in. So if you cursed (which is very childish for what I said) at a studio chief they wouldn’t be angry and you’d stay on their invite list? They don’t care about you, they don’t write your checks like you said, they could care less about you and your website. You are absolutely right, I should not have said that on your website to you, but you had no right to say what you said either. You were clearly upset-I would assume because you didn’t get to see the rest of the film.

    The lesson here is to think before you type.

  • 20 11-21-2008 at 2:16 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Kris, just keep running this great site and don’t waste your time with this prick.

    Also AJ, yes he’s privileged, but I can guarantee you that it took him a lot of hard work (reading, studying, writing, and a lot of thinking) to get where he is.

    A little advice AJ, taking pleasure in another man’s misfortune will only hinder your advancement in life.

  • 21 11-21-2008 at 2:29 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Over it.

  • 22 11-21-2008 at 2:35 pm

    AJ said...

    I also meant to apologize in that last one:

    “You are absolutely right, I should not have said that on your website to you [and I am sorry for doing so], but you had no right to say what you said either.”

    Don’t call me a prick, Scotty. Mr. Tapley called me an asshole which is completely acceptable. I am an asshole, but I am no prick.

  • 23 11-21-2008 at 3:59 pm

    steamfreshmeals said...

    Not the first time, nor the last, when projection system in that theater was off. I was there for a premiere screening when film was halted and director was none to happy as he and cast members tried to entertain the audience. That lot is prone to “accidents”

  • 24 11-21-2008 at 7:15 pm

    Andrew L. said...

    Let’s hug it out, bitches!

    Anyhoo… sucks about the screening, but do you really think Blanchett will be pushed into Leading? It’s already such a crowded year. I think she would fare better in Supporting, though she’s sort of becoming the next Dianne Wiest.

    And on that note: am I the only one wondering why Cruz is still a frontrunner? Her buzz throughout the year has surprisingly sustained.

  • 25 11-21-2008 at 7:53 pm

    AJ said...

    No andrew! I have no clue why Penelope Cruz is the frontrunner, I doubt she’ll even be nominated. Blanchett is definitely going lead.

  • 26 11-21-2008 at 8:25 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Andrew: Cate Blanchett has been confirmed a lead by the studio for some time now, actually.

    As for Cruz, hers is still one of my favorite performances of the year. And doubt away, AJ, but she’s pretty much a lock.

  • 27 11-21-2008 at 8:45 pm

    Marvin said...


    Kind of a big deal. I hope the press doesn’t get pissed beyond repair over this incident.

  • 28 11-21-2008 at 9:44 pm

    Simple Meditation said...

    Excellent content and style…keep up the good work!

  • 29 11-21-2008 at 10:25 pm

    AJ said...

    Don’t worry I will doubt away. Speaking of doubt, I think people have too much doubt in “Doubt.” I think it will be more nominated than Frost/Nixon but this is not the place to talk about this.