Confusion surrounds Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ UK release date

Terrence Malick’s long-awaited drama The Tree of Life looks set to be at the centre of a legal battle concerning its UK release date, Slash Film reports.

After Empire ran a story on Monday revealing that Icon, the company that holds distribution rights for the UK, Australia and New Zealand, had announced a UK release date of May 4, there followed much confusion and a series of attacks on Empire itself for running the story. Icon, however, have since confirmed the release date.

The issue is that May 4 is a week before Cannes, while Fox Searchlight, who holds the distribution rights in the US, and Summit International, who holds the rights for other territories, had both agreed upon a Cannes premiere for Malick’s film, with a release date scheduled for late May.

It isn’t the first time that Malick’s follow-up to 2005’s The New World, which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, will have had its UK release date pushed back, assuming that it now will be. It was for a long time scheduled for December 2010, until Fox Searchlight picked it up and declared a May release in the US.

Oliver Lyttelton at The Playlist insightfully sums up the complex issue: “If one studio is releasing a film worldwide, then the timing of its release can be perfectly synchronized, but for an independently produced project like The Tree of Life, which will be released by dozens of different distributors worldwide, it doesn’t work in the same way. Once a final print has been delivered, generally speaking, only good faith and mutual interest keep the companies in sync.”

It’s difficult at this point to tell if Icon will bow to pressure and move their release date back to accomodate both the planned Cannes premiere and Fox Searchlight and Summit International’s release date. Watch this space.

About The Author

Michael Pattison is a film critic from Gateshead.

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