Charlie Kaufman stopped caring

2015’s Anomalisa sounds like it nearly broke Charlie Kaufman. Well, not the movie itself, but more the reaction to it – or, even more specifically, the lack of reaction to it. The filmmaker, who directed 2008’s Synecdoche, New York, 2015’s Anomalisa, and is back with this year’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, says he “just stopped caring” about directing after Anomalisa flopped at the box office.

Charlie Kaufman does not make commercial movies. His directorial efforts have received critical acclaim and awards attention, but they often don’t perform well enough financially to encourage a studio to throw a bunch of money his way so he can make another movie. That’s why Netflix seems such a good fit for his newest movie – the numbers don’t matter. But according to him, “if this is the last movie I get to make, I’m okay with that.” That’s what he said in a new interview with Uproxx, where he explained why he “just stopped caring” about directing movies:

“You know what happened? We’ve hit Anomalisa. We made it ourselves. We made it in the middle of nothing in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t know what we had. We finished it. We started sending it to Telluride and Venice and Toronto [film festivals], and these people went crazy for it. And it won! And everybody was bidding on it to buy it, because we didn’t have distribution. And we won the Silver Lion at Venice. And I thought, holy cow. And then…nothing happened. The movie didn’t do any business. And I really felt weird about that, because this is the second time that’s happened to me. And it’s like, I just stopped caring. And this thing with Netflix is…it doesn’t matter. There’s no box office. The movie will play on Netflix forever – and it won’t disappear in a week because the box office isn’t doing well. And that’s fine with me. And so, that sort of pushed me in the direction of not caring I think. Not that I don’t want to work or not be interested. It just means that it’s outside of my control.”

If you missed Anomalisa, I highly recommend checking it out. Here’s the trailer:

The good news is, it sounds like that whole “not caring” mentality paid off for him. Like a frustrated single person who finds love only after they’ve stopped desperately searching for it, it sounds like Kaufman started caring again for I’m Thinking of Ending Things, which our review calls “a surreal masterwork” and “unlike anything else you’re bound to see this year.”

I’m Thinking of Ending Things hits Netflix on September 4, 2020.

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