'The Current War' Flickers Back To Life As 101 Studios Acquires Film For Wide Release

Two years ago, The Current War was being primed to be a key Oscar candidate. A historical drama about the race for electricity dominance in 19th century America starring awards darlings Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon and directed by Martin Scorsese protégé Alfonso Gomez-RejonThe Current War had all the right elements to make it a frontrunner in the awards race. It was met with lukewarm reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival, and that might have obstructed it, sure, but critical acclaim isn't always a driving force come awards season. But then its distributor The Weinstein Company imploded amid the Harvey Weinstein scandal that rocked Hollywood. And The Current War disappeared.

But sparked by a Scorsese clause in the film's contract, The Current War flickered back to life. Now the film has been acquired by 101 Studios, which will finally set The Current War US release for an overhauled cut that is 10 minutes shorter and has five additional scenes.

Deadline has the full report about how The Current War's spark nearly went out, only to be revived by a final contractual sign-off by executive producer Martin Scorsese that hadn't been executed. The clause required Scorsese to give a final sign-off should director Gomez-Rejon lose his final cut and have a new cut created without his consent. Because of the film's rushed premiere at TIFF, the clause was enacted.

In an interview with Deadline, Gomez-Rejon said:

"It had been accepted to Toronto based on an early cut and then came the rush to finish in time. I knew in my heart, and every fiber of my body was saying, it's not ready. I was drowning in notes, to the point I was addressing them more than editing the film. I'd get them from London, and then more from New York. We rushed the mix, ADR, sound. You go in knowing [Harvey Weinstein's reputation for re-cutting films]. People warned me to be careful and I was determined to not be another casualty until I saw the [Toronto] cut and felt like an idiot. I went in fearless and then suddenly you realize you are a casualty, a footnote."

The rush to final cut happened in the months leading up to the searing New York Times and The New Yorker exposés of Weinstein's history of sexual assault, which may be why the former Weinstein Co. chief felt compelled to rush the film to the awards race — Weinstein had seen major success at TIFF with films like The King's Speech.

But Gomez-Rejon was dissatisfied with the cut shown at TIFF, which /Film's Chris Evangelista called "a visually inventive biopic that burns out," and that's where Scorsese stepped in. The executive producer legally blocked Lantern, the distributor that acquired The Weinstein Co.'s assets in the wake of its bankruptcy, from cutting their losses and releasing the film overseas. After staying in limbo for two years, the upstart 101 studios acquired The Current War for $3 million after Gomez-Rejon presented a 10-minute shorter cut with 5 additional scenes, according to The Wrap.

Two years after its hopes for release were nearly extinguished, a recut The Current War heads toward a wide domestic theatrical release in August 2019.