i love you phillip morris

Britain’s Times Online is claiming that I Love You, Phillip Morris (not to be confused with I Love You, Man, which is in theaters today) might be going direct-to-dvd in the United States. The Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor comedy premiered at Sundance in January to fairly good reviews. Distributors were turned off by “the graphic homosexual sex depicted in the film,” and the film has yet to score domestic theatrical distribution.

According to the report, the movie is currently being re-edited in “a last ditch attempt to find an American distributor. If it fails to do so, it will go straight to DVD.” I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m shocked that a film like Brokeback Mountain or Milk can get theatrical distribution but a comedy starring Jim Carrey is thought about as unmarketable.

The movie is adapted from Steve McVicker’s 2003 novel, and based on a true story. Carrey plays Russell, a criminal who falls in love with his cell mate, Phillip Morris (McGregor). After Morris’ release from prison, Russell attempts a variety of bizarre prison escapes in hopes of reuniting with the love of his life. The movie was apparently pitched as “Catch Me if You Can meets Brokeback Mountain“. The screenplay was written by the team who did Bad Santa. Film School Rejects said the film feels like “a mixture between the silliness and absurdness of a Farrelly brothers movie, but with the intelligence of a Coen brothers flick.”

I understand there is a graphic gay sex scene in the first 10 minutes, but I think audiences in more liberal cities don’t really care. This film doesn’t need a huge wide release. It was filmed independently for only $13 million, and has already sold theatrical distribution in UK markets. It seems strange to me that an American distributor wouldn’t at least take a chance putting the film out and a few hundred theaters. I would think that Jim Carrey’s star value alone would be enough to make the money back. As Devin from Chud said, “you can make 30 to 40 million on this movie if you’re smart”.

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