Variety has our first look at Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin and Irene Jacob in the long-gestating action drama Dying of the Light, as well as some unsettling details about the production itself.
In the film, Nicolas Cage plays a CIA agent named Evan Lake who is forced into retirement with the onset of frontotemporal dementia, only to learn that his terrorist enemy Muhammad Banir (Alexander Karim) is not dead. Lake enlists disgraced agent Milton Schultz (Yelchin) to help track down and confront Banir.
According to the piece, Dying of the Light has been effectively taken away from acclaimed writer/director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Auto Focus) and recut under the supervision of the film’s producers at Over Under Media, Todd Williams and Gary Hirsch.
“Pauls cut of the movie deviated substantially from his own script,” said Williams, who claims their version is 80% the same as Schrader’s, excluding certain elements including a voiceover narration.
“I was never asked back,” says Schrader. “They finally showed me their cut only as they were entering final post-production. It was a fait accompli.”
Originally intended as a directing vehicle for Nicolas Winding Refn with Harrison Ford and Channing Tatum in the leads, Refn stayed on as a producer and gives a particularly damning quote calling the recutting an act of “artistic disrespect.”
Says Refn, “If there’s enough people who want to see this film the right way, the way it was meant to be, hopefully that will be an eye-opener to the people who are expecting to make money on it. It’s just bad business.”
This is not the first time Schrader has had a film publically taken away from him, as famously happened to him on his Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, where Renny Harlin was brought in to film an almost entirely new film released as Exorcist: The Beginning. Schrader’s version was eventually given a limited release, but it’s still too early to say if we’ll ever see his director’s cut of Dying of the Light.
Scheduled to be released by Lionsgate, Dying of the Light currently has no release date.