Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Fox Searchlight, In First Big Disney Purchase, Takes a $13 Million Gamble on A Film With No Stars, And Partly In German: Terrence Malick’s World War II Meditation “A Hidden Life”


Fox Searchlight has rolled the dice on its first big purchase under the Disney umbrella.

For $13 million, they’ve bought Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” a World War II film without any stars, spoken partly in German and mostly without dialogue.

FS is hoping that “A Hidden Life” will be received the same way as “Tree of Life,” which was a critics’ delight from Cannes several years ago but made only $13 million in the US. Worldwide it took in $54 million in 2011.

I slept through “Tree of Life” twice. It was an utter bore despite Jessica Chastain’s great performance.

Malick, who was a genius in the 70s, followed it up with several more colossally sleep inducing films that made no money. On top of that, he refuses to appear in person at events or promote his films.

This one should prove an uphill battle. All the actors are German or European, they are unknown to anyone in America. Plus, it’s described as a meditation on faith. Ask Martin Scorsese how “Silence” went, and he had two stars, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver.

Malick’s great movies were “Days of Heaven” and “Badlands” in the 1970s. After that, he became a cult figure for Pauline Kael-trained movie critics. At film festivals, his movies are celebrated. In theaters, they insufferable.

But who knows? Maybe August Diehl, the star, will become the Jean DuJardin of 2019 and “A Hidden Life” will surprise us. It’s funny: the still I’m using here reminds me of “Days of Heaven.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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