Why Mike Flanagan’s ‘Before I Wake’ Will Probably Never Get Released
“A horror movie starring Jacob Tremblay” is something I definitely want to see, but unfortunately said film may be permanently shelved. You may recall that back in 2015, a trailer for the film Before I Wake landed online, revealing the new supernatural thriller from Oculus director Mike Flanagan. Oculus was a pleasantly surprising horror entry from Flanagan, so there was actually a degree of anticipation surrounding Before I Wake. Written and directed by Flanagan, the film stars Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth as a couple who, after losing their son, opt to take in an 8-year-old boy named Cody, played by Tremblay. What they don’t know, however, is that when Cody sleeps, his dreams manifest into reality to those in close proximity—specifically dreams about the couple’s dead son.
Relativity released a debut trailer in March 2015 touting a May 2015 release date, but that was then pushed back. A new trailer hit in July 2016 touting a September 2016 release date, but that release also did not come to pass. So what happened and what’s the likelihood of the film coming out? Flanagan recently went on the Post Mortem podcast (via The Playlist) and explained that Relativity’s bankruptcy woes buried the movie despite positive test screening scores:
“It was a great deal [with Relativity], and it was a big fat wide release, and coming off of what they did with Oculus, it was like, ‘This is going to be great.’ And so we sold the movie to Relativity, and we had a release date, and we were all set, and I moved on to the next project… And then things just got weird. Everything kind of stalled. We weren’t getting trailers and posters and materials. It was kind of cagey. We didn’t know it at first, but it was because of the collapse… And so they moved it off the date, and they didn’t really have a good reason, and they didn’t ask us to change anything, which was odd… And it was testing better than Oculus ever tested. We were in a really good place… We just couldn’t get these materials.”
Flanagan continued, saying the the truth finally came out when Relativity filed for bankruptcy:
“It was like, ‘Well where’s the marketing materials?’And we eventually found out that a lot of the vendors had cut them out because they had too much debt and so the vendors weren’t turning the materials over… And then we started to really learn about how much trouble the company was in, and they finally came to us, and it was like, ‘Yes, we’re going to file Chapter 11, but we’re confident we’re going to pull out of it.’ But they’d pushed the date back twice at that point, and we had had international buyers that had picked it up based on the wide release commitment in the States, and so we kicked and screamed and shook our fists, but there was no choice but to kind of wait it out and hope they emerged from bankruptcy and would pick up where they left off and do right by the movie.”
Unfortunately, Flanagan says that since the international distributors went ahead and released the film (it’s on Netflix in the U.K.), its availability in other regions and subsequent piracy make the prospects of a domestic distributor paying money to release the film stateside is unlikely. Which is a major shame. Flanagan’s an exciting talent and this movie actually looked pretty good. Also Jacob Tremblay in a horror movie people!
After Before I Wake, Flanagan moved on to Hush and the pleasantly surprising Ouija: Origin of Evil, and he’s currently directing the Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game for Netflix. So as a filmmaker Flanagan is fine, but it sounds like Before I Wake is doomed to be a “lost project” for the foreseeable future.