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Orson Welles’ Final Film Aiming for Release in 2015

Orson Welles’ unfinished final film, “The Other Side of the Wind,” may be heading for a theatrical release next year.

The New York Times has reported that Royal Road Entertainment has reached an agreement to buy the rights to “The Other Side of the Wind” with the aim of showing the film by May 6 — the 100th anniversary of Welles’ birth. The report said Royal Road is planning to promote the distribution at the American Film Market next week.

Welles shot the film-within-a-film between 1970 and 1976 and then worked on it until his death in 1985, leaving behind a 45-minute work print that he had smuggled out of France. John Huston starred as a temperamental film director battling with Hollywood executives to finish a movie –much like Welles did throughout his career. Susan Strasberg, Lilli Palmer, Dennis Hopper and Peter Bogdanovich played supporting roles.

To obtain the rights, Royal Road has negotiated agreements with Welles’s collaborator, Oja Kodar; his daughter and sole heir, Beatrice Welles; and Iranian-French production company, L’Astrophore. Welles had financed through a combination of TV roles and investors, including Mehdi Bushehri, brother-in-law of the shah of Iran and an investor in L’Astrophore.

As a result of clashing with Welles, Bushehri took control of more than 1,000 negative reels, which have been stored in a Paris warehouse.

Since Welles’ death, a multitude of efforts have been made to sort out the legal issues in order to complete. Two years ago, veteran producer Frank Marshall, who was a line producer on “The Other Side of the Wind,” joined with Royal Road’s Filip Jan Rymsza to approach Beatrice Welles and Oja Kodar.

Beatrice Welles, who manages the Welles estate, told the Times that the 2012 visit was key to starting the process of getting the film finished. Marshall and Bogdanovich will assemble the film.

“We have notes from Orson Welles,” Marshall told the Times. “We have scenes that weren’t quite finished, and we need to add music. We will get it done. The good news is that it won’t take so long because of all of the technology today.”

The character portrayed by Huston originated in an encounter between Ernest Hemingway and Welles in 1937 — four years before the release of “Citizen Kane” — in which a whiskey-drinking Hemingway threw a chair at Welles and they scuffled. Welles decided to use Hemingway as the primary model for Huston’s character.

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