It was one step forward and one step back for Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. In what was a win against a recently filed lawsuit over ownership of the film, a French judge declared that it could be screened as the closing night film at the in progress Cannes Film Festival. But it was a Pyrrhic victory as just a few hours before the ruling Amazon dropped out of being the film’s US distributor.
The legal conflict that the film is embroiled in stems from a claim filed by producer Paulo Branco that he owned the rights to the film following a commitment to fund the production in 2016. However, after several clashes between Branco and Gilliam during pre-production, the two parted ways. Gilliam contends that Branco did not pay any amount towards the production of the film and therefore has no claim to it. A final ruling on the matter of ownership of the film should come later next month.
After Branco and Gilliam split, the director turned to Amazon, who fronted the funds for production in return for the US distribution rights. However, Amazon dropped out of distributing the film earlier today stating that the film’s producers did not deliver the completed project on time.
It has been said that any project attempting to adapt Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Spanish novel is cursed, and Gilliam’s history in trying to get this passion project completed certainly would lend credence to such an idea. Gilliam entered into pre-production on his first attempt at The Man Who Killed Don Quixote two decades ago, getting the project in front of cameras with French actor Jean Rochefort as Quixote and Johnny Depp as the time-tossed Toby Grisoni who gets mistaken for sidekick Sancho Panza in 2000. But the production was plagued by numerous issues – chronicled in the heartbreaking documentary Lost In LaMancha – and shut down within a week never to resume with that cast. Over the years, Gilliam reworked the screenplay and came close to getting a greenlight with the various likes of Robert Duvall, Michael Palin and John Hurt as Quixote and Ewan McGregor and Jack O’Connell, as Grisoni. The final version features Gilliam’s former Brazil and The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen star Jonathan Pryce as Quixote and Adam Driver as Grisoni.