Magnolia, Madman pre-buy rights for Scorsese-Von Trier collaboration

The U.S. distributor has pre-bought North American rights for the directors' updated version of von Trier's The Five Obstructions, while Madman has pre-bought rights for Australia and New Zealand.
May 18, 2011

(Photo: TrustNordisk)

Lars von Trier made the news today via two stories emerging from the Cannes Film Festival – two very different stories.

The maverick Danish director has been in the spotlight this week both for his fictional feature premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, Melancholia, and for the news that he will be collaborating with legendary helmer Martin Scorsese on an updated version of his 2003 doc The Five Obstructions. In that film, Von Trier demystified the filmmaking process by challenging fellow Danish director Jørgen Leth to remake his short film The Perfect Human five times, with each remake subject to an “obstruction” created by Von Trier.

Today it was announced that pre-buys had been hammered out between TrustNordisk, which is handling foreign sales of the film, and U.S. distributor Magnolia Pictures for North American rights, and Australian company Madman for Australia and New Zealand.

The Five Obstructions: Scorsese vs. Trier, to be coproduced by Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions and Zentropa Real, the production company run by Von Trier and Peter Aalbaek, is slated to be wrapped by 2013.

Magnolia and Madman are currently handling Von Trier’s Melancholia during its bow on the Croisette.

The Five Obstructions is one of my all time favorite films, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what these two masters concoct together for this next installment,” said Magnolia senior vice president Tom Quinn in a statement. “After being blown away by Melancholia here in Cannes, the opportunity to work with Lars von Trier again is a dream come true.”

“Strengthening long standing bonds over a legendary dinner. Madman looks to the future and sees no obstructions boarding Lars vs Martin” added Paul Wiegard, managing director of Madman Entertainment.

The other Von Trier news emanating from the Cannes Film Festival was much stranger, with the director, no stranger to controversial and provocative statements, saying during the press conference for Melancholia that he “sympathized” with Hitler and that he was a Nazi.

The statements came in response to a question from Kate Muir of The Times regarding Von Trier’s German roots during which she asked about comments he’d made to a Danish publication regarding his supposed appreciation of “the Nazi aesthetic.” Video from the press conference, with the run of statements coming in at close to the 34-minute mark, can be seen here. The Cannes Film Festival subsequently issued a statement saying, “The director states that he let himself be egged on by a provocation.”

The director has also issued a statement with an apology. “I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi,” the statement reads in part.

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