Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Pirate Radio Boat that Used to Rock
Before I moved back to the United States from Dublin, a friend and I went to see the new Richard Curtis film titled The Boat that Rocked. Now, Richard Curtis is generally understood to be the best British Romantic Comedy writer/producer/director, and is particularly brilliant at cross marketing his films by incorporating into his stories an "across the pond" connection a.k.a. highlighting the "special relationship" between the cultures of the United States and Great Britain. Just look at Notting Hill and Love Actually...both inarguably British films, but heavy on the canned-ham sentiment that American audiences goggle up, plus there are always American characters and American actors playing those characters. It should come as no surprise to anyone that production studios and film distributors are mainly in the film business to make money. Artistic integrity and the theories of "art for arts sake" are generally low on the totem pole. But when we have a cross-cultural blend-film like The Boat that Rocked, it becomes blazingly apparent where British and US distributors differ.
"US distributor, Universal have chosen to re-title the film as "Pirate Radio" and release it under Focus Features in US territories. This new version will be edited for length by director Richard Curtis after some European reviewers cited its 135 minute running time as a factor in its diminished success."
According to MovieMojo.com the films budget was $50M US and as of Oct, 2009 the film had only grossed $36M US. Perhaps the studios should have focused on marketing and advertising rather than trimming a brilliant film.
This re-editing of The Boat that Rocked / Pirate Radio essentially ruined the film. Some of the most hilarious scenes have vanished. The tone of the film become less about happy-go-lucky frivolity and more talkie-talkie drama. The Boat that Rocked / Pirate Radio is a perfect example of how when U.S. distributors get their mitts on a great yet board-line film (and by that I mean challenging to market) they just make a mess of what they intended to "fix". If you want to see this film, please find the UK 2.5 hours version THE BOAT THAT ROCKED...cuz it does :)