‘Picture Bride’ jilts Sundance

“Picture Bride,” one of the films widely considered a top contender for the Mercedes Benz dramatic prize at the Sundance Film Festival, has been pulled from the competition. And Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein announced Jan. 7 that Miramax has acquired the worldwide rights (excluding Japan) for the historical drama.

“Bride” has been in the works for several years, and its creative team got bogged down in post-production just weeks before the festival. It became clear to them this month that they would not have been ready in time for the Utah indie showcase, although it may be ready in time for a late spring release.

Written and directed by Kayo Hatta, “Picture Bride” was shot by Claudio Rocha (“Like Water for Chocolate”) and stars Youki Kudoh, the lipstick-smeared tourist from “Mystery Train.”

Hawaiian bride

“Bride” is set in 1915 and tells the story of an arranged marriage between a mainland Japanese woman and a Japanese planter, who has been in Hawaii for more than a decade. The heroine’s only knowledge of her husband is a 20-year-old photograph of him.

“Picture Bride’s” no-show at Sundance is not only a loss for the festival, but from a marketing standpoint the film itself would undoubtedly have benefited from the press attention. A Sundance accolade might have translated into a B.O. boost since “Bride’s” long sequences in Japanese and its tale of a pre-World War I woman in rural Hawaii doesn’t exactly spell commercial blockbusterMDSD. In the past, good festival exposure has jump-started the B.O. of the such pix as “The Wedding Banquet,” which earned $ 23,558,332 worldwide.

Although the “Picture Bride” no-show will disappoint many in the independent film community, there is one fledgling auteur who is celebrating the mishap. Director Alan Jacobs, whose “Nina Takes a Lover” was not originally slated for the festival, will make his Sundance debut in the dramatic competition. “Lover” stars Laura San Giacomo, Paul Rhys, Fisher Stevens and Michael O’Keefe. ICM’s Robert Newmanis representing the film. As of yet, it has no distributor.

San Fran tryst

Jacob’s flick depicts a married San Francisco woman’s tryst with a younger man, who is a photographer. While the film sounds like “The Bridges of Mendocino County,” it marks the directing/screenwriting debut of 35-year-old Alan Jacobs, who previously had been making documentary and industrial films for Apple Computer.

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