Pirate this Film!

I have long had the belief that God can have a very pointed sense of humor. I think that His is not a thunderous belly laugh in reaction to grand human pratfalls but rather an irony laden little chuckle reserved for the self important and those who are often too clever for their own good.  This belief was reaffirmed this week when I read about the trials and tribulations of Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh in an article in  the Guardian.  

Most of the article was about Soderbergh's four and a half hour film Che, a Spanish language epic that was split in two for its mostly unnoticed release in America.  The movie earned less than half of its production costs at the world wide box office.  Both the journalist conducting the interview and the filmmaker seemed clueless as to why the film failed badly at the box office. 

First came self pity.

Eventually European investors were tapped for $58m (£35m) - a paltry figure considering the project's ambition. As a result Soderbergh was forced to shoot extremely quickly to stay on budget. The two parts were filmed over 76 days, four days fewer than for his glitzy Vegas action comedy Ocean's Eleven, an $85m capitalist fat-cat of a movie in comparison with Che.

"It's hard to watch it and not to wish we'd had more time," he says of Che.

Why investors seeking to make a profit should rush to invest in an overlong film about a murderer and a sworn enemy to their way of life in not explained.

The interview gets even better.  Why was Che such a complete box office failure when his image still adorns posters and tee shirts among self proclaimed radical revolutionaries in Western nations?  It turns out that  those who actually wanted to devote a large segment of their time to watching the film had followed Abbie Hoffman's classic reflexive title.   They pirated the film.  

"We got crushed in South America. We came out in Spain in September of last year and it was everywhere within a matter of days. It killed it."

The irony of fans of a sworn enemy of private enterprise and bourgeoisie property laws ripping off a filmmaker seems lost on both Soderbergh and the Guardian's Henry Barnes, who goes on to lament 

Che seems, in retrospect, like a glorious, sad aberration: a niche-audience epic it would be impossible to commission in these straitened times. Today, the willingness of the studios to take such a punt has all but evaporated - a fact that Soderbergh is more alive to than most.

"I'm looking at the landscape and I'm thinking, 'Hmmm, I don't know. A few more years maybe,'" says Soderbergh. "And then the stuff that I'm interested in is only going to be of interest to me.

What end could be more fitting for one who lionized a monster in the name of art? 
I have long had the belief that God can have a very pointed sense of humor. I think that His is not a thunderous belly laugh in reaction to grand human pratfalls but rather an irony laden little chuckle reserved for the self important and those who are often too clever for their own good.  This belief was reaffirmed this week when I read about the trials and tribulations of Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh in an article in  the Guardian.  

Most of the article was about Soderbergh's four and a half hour film Che, a Spanish language epic that was split in two for its mostly unnoticed release in America.  The movie earned less than half of its production costs at the world wide box office.  Both the journalist conducting the interview and the filmmaker seemed clueless as to why the film failed badly at the box office. 

First came self pity.

Eventually European investors were tapped for $58m (£35m) - a paltry figure considering the project's ambition. As a result Soderbergh was forced to shoot extremely quickly to stay on budget. The two parts were filmed over 76 days, four days fewer than for his glitzy Vegas action comedy Ocean's Eleven, an $85m capitalist fat-cat of a movie in comparison with Che.

"It's hard to watch it and not to wish we'd had more time," he says of Che.

Why investors seeking to make a profit should rush to invest in an overlong film about a murderer and a sworn enemy to their way of life in not explained.

The interview gets even better.  Why was Che such a complete box office failure when his image still adorns posters and tee shirts among self proclaimed radical revolutionaries in Western nations?  It turns out that  those who actually wanted to devote a large segment of their time to watching the film had followed Abbie Hoffman's classic reflexive title.   They pirated the film.  

"We got crushed in South America. We came out in Spain in September of last year and it was everywhere within a matter of days. It killed it."

The irony of fans of a sworn enemy of private enterprise and bourgeoisie property laws ripping off a filmmaker seems lost on both Soderbergh and the Guardian's Henry Barnes, who goes on to lament 

Che seems, in retrospect, like a glorious, sad aberration: a niche-audience epic it would be impossible to commission in these straitened times. Today, the willingness of the studios to take such a punt has all but evaporated - a fact that Soderbergh is more alive to than most.

"I'm looking at the landscape and I'm thinking, 'Hmmm, I don't know. A few more years maybe,'" says Soderbergh. "And then the stuff that I'm interested in is only going to be of interest to me.

What end could be more fitting for one who lionized a monster in the name of art?