Frank Darabont Begged For The Mist To Have A Better Release Date [Exclusive]

15 years removed from its original theatrical release, "The Mist" has garnered a reputation as one of the finest Stephen King adaptations ever captured on film. Yes, it is extremely brutal and dark, but it's King we're talking about. It's easy to forget that, at the time, the movie was straight-up screwed over by Dimension Films, with the studio opting to release it in the middle of the pre-Thanksgiving holiday rush against stiff competition. It turns out, this is something director Frank Darabont literally begged to avoid.

/Film's own Eric Vespe recently spoke to Darabont and many others involved in the making of "The Mist" for a comprehensive oral history on the film, which you can read in its entirety right here. But one interesting tidbit is that the director revealed he fought producer Bob Weinstein very hard on the November 2007 release date.

"I begged [Bob Weinstein]. I begged him, let's wait until February when there's nothing in the theaters. Don't release this as the holidays are approaching. Please don't. People want to go see 'Elf.' They want to see Christmas movies. They don't want to see flesh-eating tentacles and this hopeless, despair-filled movie. Not now. He threw that word at me that you'll hear from executives in Hollywood and every time it's f***ed me: counter-programming."

Indeed, there was much to choose from that holiday season and "The Mist" just wasn't at the front of everyone's mind. "I think if we'd waited until February and actually done some real promotion leading up to it, we might have had ... It wouldn't have been a Marvel movie in terms of its box office, but I think we could have done a lot better than we did," Darabont added.

A shockingly 'tone-deaf' decision

For some context, the same weekend that "The Mist" opened, Disney's "Enchanted" took the top spot on the charts, followed by "This Christmas." "Hitman" and "August Rush" also opened that very same weekend, with "The Mist" having to settle for ninth place. Still, in the end, against a reported $18 million budget, the movie pulled in $57 million. Studios would be quite happy with those returns in today's marketplace. For his part, star Thomas Jane did not mince words regarding the studio's decision.

"Movie studios are notorious for not knowing how to release a film, but I thought that it was particularly tone-deaf to release 'The Mist' over Thanksgiving weekend. In the movie business, Thanksgiving weekend is the family weekend. It's the weekend where everybody has a great feast and then, as a family, goes to the movies. It's the weekend out of the year where the most families go to the movies. Instead of waiting for Halloween or any other time of the year, they actually released it on Thanksgiving weekend and the movie tanked! Of course it did. Nobody wanted to see that on Thanksgiving weekend with their whole family."

Both Darabont and Jane probably have a point. Granted, the movie didn't straight-up tank, but it certainly might have stood a better chance in February 2008 facing less competition. It could have been a huge hit to go along with its elite status amongst Stephen King adaptations.