Two years ago, the period drama/thriller “Child 44” came and went with little fanfare, which is a shock considering its pedigree which began with a compelling high concept story based on Tom Rob Smith’s award-winning novel serving as the source material.
The acclaimed “Sea of Love” scribe and “The Wire” episode writer Richard Price, who also created last year’s “The Night Of” mini-series, penned the script which made the Black List in 2008. The film’s director, Daniel Espinosa, was coming off the success of “Easy Money” and “Safe House” and had a $50 million budget to play with.
Then there was the killer casting of Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Charles Dance, Jason Clarke, Paddy Considine, Joel Kinnaman and Vincent Cassel. It was also a refreshingly different story – one set in Stalinst Russia in the 1950s where the official decree of the state is that ‘there is no crime’. Hardy played a disgraced MGB agent investigating a series of child murders and finds himself the target of his own government when he learns the elusive killer may have connections to the highest levels of the party.
Yet when the film hit – it vanished without a trace. The marketing was soft, the reviews were tepid with a 41/100 on Metacritic, and the worldwide box-office haul was basically non-existent: $12 million. Seems NO-ONE wanted to or really liked this film much.
At the time though came a rumor that Espinosa’s original cut of the film clocked in longer – MUCH longer – than the theatrical version. Speaking with Collider this week to promote his new film “Life,” Espinosa was asked about the runtimes of his films from assembly to final cut form.
He confirmed that his assembly cut (ie. rough cut) of all his films were as follows: “Life” at 140 minutes, “Safe House” at 175 minutes, “Easy Money” at 210 minutes, and “Child 44” at a whopping 390 minutes. Compare that to the final theatrical runtimes of the films with “Life” at 103 minutes, “Safe House” at 115 minutes, “Easy Money” at 124 minutes, and “Child 44” at 137 minutes.
While the others were relatively standard trims, in the interview he indicates that “Child 44” specifically has a director’s cut, one which he was happy with, that clock in at around five hours (300 minutes). The length is not entirely unexpected either as the movie went into production with a lengthy 176 page script.
Espinosa gave no indication if we’ll see the longer ‘true version’ of the film some day, though with its box-office failure it’s unlikely.