In further evidence that filmmaker Terry Gilliam hit a gypsy with his car at some point over the last couple decades, the frustrating saga of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote continues. Gilliam began work on the film in 1989, finally beginning production in 2000 with Johnny Depp in the lead role only for production to be shut down due to financial woes, natural disasters, and pretty much anything and everything bad that can happen to a movie. After a number of other false starts, Gilliam finally got the film off the ground again in 2016 and completed filming with Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, and Olga Kurylenko, but perhaps unsurprisingly, completing filming didn’t mean the end of this curse.
Producer Paulo Branco butted heads with Gilliam throughout production over creative and financial issues, and eventually left the project. But last summer, Branco sued the production, claiming he owned the rights and that Gilliam’s finished version was “illegal.” Quixote had been accepted to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, but Branco’s suit could potentially prevent the film from actually screening, and this news hit Gilliam hard as he reportedly suffered a minor stroke over the weekend.
Well it’s good news/bad news now. Variety reported today that a French court ruled that Don Quixote can indeed screen at Cannes after all as long as it includes a disclaimer stating that this screening does not prejudice Branco’s claim to the rights of the film. So that’s something.
Alas, we’ve now learned that the film has also lost its distributor, as Amazon Studios reportedly pulled out of distributing the film last month. So while The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is finished and will screen, its future is still very much in doubt. It may be difficult to land a new distributor while this court case is still ongoing, so keep an eye on those reviews out of the film’s Cannes premiere—it may be the only Don Quixote screening for quite some time.