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Netflix has been dipping its streaming giant toes into more and more corners of the entertainment business with their move to producing films along with streaming TV shows. Now it looks like the company may be about to help a famously unfinished film finally get seen: Orson Welles' The Other Side of the Wind.
According to Wellesnet, Netflix has been in talks with the rights holders/producers for The Other Side of the Wind, Oja Kodar, Filip Jan Rymsza, Frank Marshall and Jens Koethner Kaul, to pay over $5 million for a two-picture deal that would include the finished film for streaming and theatrical release rights, and a companion documentary. So far, only Kodar has refused to sign off on the deal.
The Other Side of the Wind has a long history beset with problems. Orson Welles originally came up with the idea in 1937 after a feud with writer Ernest Hemingway. That altercation led to his inspiration for a story about a macho writer whose career is on the decline. When Hemingway committed suicide, though, he changed the lead character to an old Hollywood director who tries to resuscitate his work by creating a wild film with tons of sex and violence. The movie, which was filmed in 8mm, 16mm and 35mm, was shot in the 1970s with a cast that included John Huston, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich and Susan Strasberg.
Orson Welles was able to finish principal photography on the film, but died in 1985 before he could complete editing and other postproduction aspects of the movie. He tried to fund the completion himself by taking a number of acting jobs and getting backers for the movie, but most of them left the film before it could be finished. 30 yeas of legal battles over the rights to the movie after Welles’ death held up the movie even longer.
Last summer, producers Filip Jan Rymsza, Frank Marshall and Jens Koethner Kaul started an Indegogo campaign to take donations and finally finish the movie. They were hoping to raise $2 million, but only raised $406,405 from Orson Welles fans. The crowdfund campaign probably helped lead Netflix to them, and, in turn, helped the producers begin negotiations with Netflix in the hopes of actually being able to get The Other Side of the Wind done and released after all these years. Netflix needs worldwide distribution rights to finalize the deal, but Oja Kodar holds the rights to the Croatian distribution. Netflix has already spent six months trying to iron out the deal.
Considering the amount of time Netflix has put into making The Other Side of the Wind happen, it’s pretty clear that they would like for the deal to go through, but there doesn’t seem to be any clear end to the haggling going on for the rights to the movie. What do you think? Is Netflix the right place for this classic, unseen Orson Welles film? Let us know in the comments.