Pilloried movies come and go, but bankruptcy is forever.
Vincent Gallo‘s “The Brown Bunny” bombed at Cannes, but it might ultimately be remembered for the damage done to the companies that paid for it.
“Bunny” was financed by Japan’s Kinetic. The company did very well with Gallo’s last film, “Buffalo 66,” which it bought from Lions Gate for $150,000. The pic grossed $6 million.
Still, it was pretty bold when Gallo asked Kinetic to roll its $3 million in “Buffalo 66” profits to finance “Brown Bunny,” especially since Gallo would serve as the film’s writer, director, star, sole producer, cinematographer and editor, in addition to overseeing cast, costumes and art direction.
But Kinetic agreed. It also agreed to Gallo’s stringent terms: No one at Kinetic could have any input on “Brown Bunny” whatsoever, up to and including seeing the film in advance or speaking to Gallo.
Kinetic then turned to French sales agent Wild Bunch to lay off some of the “Bunny” risk. Known for its edgy taste, Wild Bunch bought international rights outside the U.S and Japan for a $1.8 million minimum guarantee.
However, Gallo reserved the right to sign off on all presales. And when Wild Bunch tried to make a deal with Tartan in the U.K. for $400,000, Gallo rejected the offer as too low.
By the time “Bunny” hit the Croisette with a resounding splat, no deals had been closed — and none has been made since.
If Kinetic loses its full $1.2 million investment, the tiny distrib could be crippled. But it faces almost certain death if it can’t collect the $1.8 million from Wild Bunch. However, honoring that contract could kill the French company.
In a brief phone conversation, a hostile Gallo said he had no comment for Variety.