Before “O” preemed Monday at the Loews Century Plaza, Lions Gate Films president Tom Ortenberg told the audience his company had acquired the controversial pic from Miramax when the latter decided the film “was a little too edgy, too provocative, too dangerous.”
Ortenberg concluded by saying: “So we made a deal with Miramax. As you can imagine, that was really easy.”
Later at the Moomba after-party Ortenberg said the problem Miramax had with the “Othello”-based teen pic, which he called a “young adult thriller,” was “not that there aren’t many more violent films getting released every week, it’s that this one was too real.”
Ortenberg then added: “I wish I could take credit for making it.”
Director Tim Blake Nelson said he “sympathized” with Miramax’s post-Columbine qualms over the film and felt a key point with Harvey Weinstein was the topper didn’t want to appear a “hypocrite” — releasing “O” while actively supporting the Democratic party, which was attacking teen movie violence.
“Harvey wasn’t irrational or deluded,” Nelson said. “His fears were quite heartfelt.”
While the film itself obviously doesn’t have a happy ending, its distribution does. “Even if it’s a year and a half later, it’s getting released by people who love film,” Ortenberg said.
Among those celebrating the release were Lions Gate’s Jon Feltheimer; producers Eric Gitter, Anthony Rhulen and Dan Fried; stars Josh Hartnett, Elden Henson, Andrew Keegan, Mekhi Phifer, Rain Phoenix and Julia Stiles; plus guests Jeffrey Field, Kate Hudson, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Sam Rockwell and Nancy Travis.