The battle between New Line Cinema and director Tony Kaye over the pic “American History X” escalated Monday as New Line pulled the film from its competition spot in Toronto.
The studio and the director have been locked in stalemate for the past two months, as Kaye has insisted on more time to complete another cut of the film, despite having produced one that the studio says it likes and is prepared to release.
Toronto fest director Piers Handling has a strong tradition of supporting filmmakers in disputes with studios; rather than cause further embarrassment, NL decided to withdraw the film.
According to New Line Prods. prexy Michael De Luca, Kaye had requested a further eight weeks to “radically reinvent” the movie after completing the last cut in early June. While NL was prepared to cede the some more time, De Luca said, the studio stood firm after Kaye repeatedly asked for extensions without producing anything.
“I believe that he’s genuinely wedded to his new vision,” De Luca said. “But we don’t have a version of his to consider. There is no ‘Tony Kaye cut.’ We had no idea what he would show in Toronto.”
Kaye’s reps did not return calls seeking comment.
Sources said, due to the Kaye-NL controversy, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers has circulated a letter to studio heads laying down guidelines on the use of director pseudonyms.
“In the light of recent publicity,” the letter reads, “as a condition for using a pseudonym, a director must refrain from publicly criticizing the film … If he does (criticize it), he is not entitled to use the pseudonym.”
“X,” which stars Edward Norton, Edward Furlong and Fairuza Balk, is a drama about white supremacist gangs. Pic was written by David McKenna, and is being produced by Turman/Morrissey Co. and the Steve Tisch Co.
NL believes that it and Kaye’s existing cut is critically viable and De Luca said the studio sees this as a “worthy, prestige film.”
NL has a earmarked an Oct. 16 domestic release date for the pic. It was unclear whether the distrib plans to proceed with that date in the light of current events.