How Christopher Nolan Saved “Donnie Darko”

Christopher Nolan Saved Donnie Darko

While filmmaker Christopher Nolan is known for his own works like “Inception,” “The Dark Knight” and “Interstellar,” he’s also been responsible for shepherding other people and their films along the way.

One such person was “Southland Tales” and “The Box” director Richard Kelly who broke through big time with the theatrical release of the highly acclaimed Jake Gyllenhaal-led sci-fi dramedy “Donnie Darko” in 2001.

Though not a box-office hit, the film remains a firm favorite of many film fans and a prime example of a cult classic which did exceedingly well home video. However a 2016 interview with director Richard Kelly resurfaced this week (via The Guardian) in which the making of the film is discussed and it’s revealed Nolan is the key reason the film broke through as otherwise it could easily have gone direct-to-video. Kelly says:

“Sometimes, the wind is at your back. Sometimes, it’s at your front. ‘Darko’ was a disaster at Sundance too. No one remembers that, but it was. I’m grateful for any rosy glow of hindsight. I remember it took us almost six months to sell the movie. It almost went directly to the Starz network. We had to beg them to put it in theaters. Christopher Nolan stepped in and convinced Newmarket to put it in theaters.”

Nolan broke through the year before with “Memento” but still wasn’t the juggernaut he is now in Hollywood. Even so, his campaigning for the film was heard. Nolan’s next film is “Tenet” which opens in 2020.