With the release in U.S. cinemas this weekend of “Annihilation,” filmmaker Alex Garland has once again delivered a trippy and thought-provoking sci-fi effort that the critics have been very happy about.
Of course, the film famously sold off almost all its international rights to Netflix after the movie tested not so great with producer David Ellison calling it “too intellectual” and “too complicated”.
Garland was asked to change the film’s ending and reshape one of the key characters, but fellow producer Scott Rudin allowed the director to deliver the picture he intended. Paramount then sold off the film’s international rights to Netflix bar the U.S., Canada, and China.
Both Ellison and Rudin have denied there was a battle over the picture, and now Garland has spoken with both The Toronto Star and The Wall Street Journal and explained that he didn’t care about the test results or claims the film is too intellectual:
“I don’t really give a s–t. I don’t believe in it, as a bit of phrasing, nor do I actually think the film is very intellectual. I think it’s quite intuitive. There’s a requirement to have an open mind, I think, but that in itself is not intellectual.”
We’ve got a s–tload of problems with this film, right? A s–tload. I love the film, I stand by it, but I understand the problems. It’s ‘What do you do with a film that costs this much that tests the way this tests?’. Did we test brilliantly? No, we didn’t. Is that dangerous waters? If it is, I couldn’t give a f— because it’s so self-evident. For anybody who understands testing, it’s not a surprise.”
Garland’s now modern classic “Ex Machina” didn’t test well either, the filmmaker saying “nothing I’ve done has come close to testing well.” Garland adds that Paramount knew very well what it was getting with the movie and with his hiring:
“When it says it in the script, it’s like a contract—that is what I’m going to do. “Now, listen, at the end of the day, is that difficult for the people making it and for the studio? Yeah, it’s really f—ing hard. It was difficult to make, and it’ll be difficult to sell. I’ve been working in film long enough to know that if I wrote this script and we tried to make it, I knew where that would lead. I wasn’t under any illusions. Sure enough, that’s where it led.”
Garland wrote numerous films before this including “Sunshine,” “28 Days Later” and “Dredd” which he allegedly co-directed in the post-production phase (though not officially). This marks his second official directorial effort after “Ex Machina” which earned just $11 million worldwide despite the acclaim. “Annihilation” opened to just $11 million this weekend in the United States.