‘The Green Inferno’ Still Stuck in Limbo

Will Open Road and Worldview Entertainment ever do right by Eli Roth?

Let’s face it: 2014 has been an ok year for horror, but nothing extraordinary. The Marked Ones, The Purge: Anarchy, Annabelle, and Cabin Fever: Patient Zero gave hardcore fans something to look forward to, but originals efforts like Deliver Us from Evil, The Devil’s Due, and The Quiet Ones were all disappointments. What kills me most about horror releases in 2014 is that the one I was most looking forward too never happened. I’m talking about Eli Roth’s tribute to 70’s & 80’s cannibal exploitation: The Green Inferno.

 

Background

Eli Roth conceived of The Green Inferno as a tribute to Italian cannibalism films of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. While “The Green Inferno” is the name of the film-within-the-film in Cannibal Holocaust, Roth’s Inferno is an original stand-alone.

 

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Director: Eli Roth

Writers: Guillermo AmoedoEli Roth

Stars: Lorenza IzzoAriel LevyAaron Burns |

Synopsis: A group of student activists travel from New York City to the Amazon to save the rainforest. However, once they arrive in this vast green landscape, they soon discover that they are not alone – and that no good deed goes unpunished.

The Green Inferno was filmed in Peru and Chile in the final months of 2012. It premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where theatrical distribution rights were snapped up by Open Road and their production arm Worldview Entertainment.

A release date was set for September 5, 2014. This was one of the most eagerly anticipated dates of the year for me. I’m a huge fan of Roth’s mainstream successes (Cabin Fever, Hostel) as well as his indie efforts like Aftershock (which he wrote, directed, and starred in) and The Sacrament (which he produced with long-time friend and protégé Ti West). So imagine my disappointment when, in August, less than a month before The Green Inferno was set to hit theaters, Deadline reported that it had been pulled from Open Road’s release calendar—indefinitely.

According to Bloody Disgusting: “Worldview doesn’t intend to leave Roth high and dry… and behind the scenes talks are going on to try and figure this out.” But that was 3 months ago and there’s still absolutely no word on when, or even if, The Green Inferno will ever see the light of day.

Problems at Worldview Entertainment

 

Ousted Worldview Founder and CEO Christopher Woodrow

Ousted Worldview Founder and CEO Christopher Woodrow

Worldview Entertainment, the production arm of Open Road, had committed to paying the P&A (Print & Advertising) costs associated with The Green Inferno’s release. But when founder and CEO Christopher Woodrow was ousted from the company he created, everything was thrown into chaos.

Woodrow was accused of making extravagant and unrealistic financial commitments to films that were under-performing at the box office. More recently, the new leadership at Worldview has accused Woodrow of embezzling and slapped him with a $35M lawsuit. In response, Woodrow filed a countersuit claiming damages in excess of $55M. Yes, it’s a shit-storm of epic proportions that threatens to derail, not just The Green Inferno, but other films that are contractually tied to Worldview.

The fate of The Green Inferno has been likened to that of the fictional characters in the movie: Wrong place, wrong time. But this “Shit happens” justification for contractual default doesn’t sit well with me—not one bit!

Damage Done and a Dangerous Precedent

Reps at Worldview Entertainment have stated that The Green Inferno’s pull from release has nothing to do with the film’s quality. Unfortunately, most film buffs aren’t privy to these kinds of behind-the-scenes maneuvers. All they know is, The Green Inferno was set to hit theaters, and now it’s not. There is an unspoken implication, whether it’s true or not, that the distributor simply had no faith in the film’s revenue-generating potential. In other words, you’re average Joe probably thinks The Green Inferno was pulled because it sucks.

Why smiling Eli?  Your film got fucked!

Why smiling Eli? Your film got fucked!

What makes this assumption so sad is that, in this case at least, it’s totally inaccurate. Sure, no critic ever called The Green Inferno “The greatest horror movie ever made,” but festival reviews were generally positive. Not to mention that Roth has an excellent reputation as a first-rate horror practitioner, with an enthusiastic following. Buzz for The Green Inferno was red-hot.

So even if the Board at Worldwide Entertainment had concerns about Woodrow’s extravagant financial commitments in the past, pulling the plug on a film that could practically guarantee at least a moderate success was just bad business. I imagine a room full of suits who only care about the bottom line, completely oblivious to the artistic gold they’re crapping on. It’s shortsighted and indicative of poor decision making on Worldview’s part. Not to mention, it’s just a fucking lame thing to have done!

Let’s not forget that The Green Inferno was being shopped when Worldview made their offer. This means, that when Roth accepted their offer, he cut ties with other potential distributors who could have brought the project to fruition. The film’s current limbo-state has crushed the momentum that could have made this film an End-of-Summer Blockbuster.

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To me, it boils down to simple breach of contract; Worldview needs to make good on their commitment or pay through the nose to make things right. The idea of a company defaulting on contracts simply because of a change in management is unforgivable. That’s not how legitimate companies do business! Where is Open Road during all of this? If Worldview can’t meet their obligations in regards to P&A, why doesn’t the parent company hire someone else? Why isn’t Open Road standing up for Roth?

My only hope is that this fiasco might somehow add to the film’s buzz or create a certain mystique. If it were implied that The Green Inferno was pulled because the film was deemed too intense for the mainstream (true or not) it will surely increase interest amongst hardcore genre fans. Since the buzz was big before Worldview imploded, I’m hoping that another push could have an avalanche effect, making The Green Inferno a guaranteed winner. Unfortunately, I think I’m pipe-dreaming.

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You might think that this type of high-level film industry maneuvering is nothing to get worked up about, but I disagree. If distributors can get away with screwing over a powerhouse like Roth, than independent filmmakers don’t stand a chance. In a business famous for its flux, companies cannot cancel commitments because of internal changes in leadership. If we allow this to become the norm, the future of the film industry will be bleak indeed.

Do you agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments section!

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5 Comments on this post.

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  • Carri
    19 November 2014 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I agree, this was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. It was one of the few movies I was really looking forward to. I don’t think it was even released in Chile yet. It’s just plain nowhere. Roth has proven he can make good horror, and he can generate boxoffice. Putting this movie in limbo is insane. And I think in today’s digital age, it drives us even crazier to know it’s a finished movie and we can’t have it. There are a million places Roth could be distributing this movie, particularly online with Amazon and Netflix. Many people would pay to stream it. The only news I heard, and this isn’t confirmed, is that there is supposed to be a German DVD release around January or so. But I’m not sure it’s happening because it was supposed to be released in Chile and that didn’t seem to happen. It may have been pulled everywhere. My guess is, maybe we will get a DVD at some point, but probably not for another year. It’s awful knowing this movie is ready for release and we aren’t allowed to have it yet.

  • Josh Millican
    19 November 2014 at 11:33 am - Reply

    You nailed it Carri. Completely frustrating!

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    20 November 2014 at 12:19 pm - Reply

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  • Jonathan Hannaford
    20 November 2014 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Open Road and Worldview Entertainment better do something because this is digusting. I have been waiting for this forever. I’m a huge Eli Roth fan and when i heard he was remaking cannibal holocaust i couldnt believe it. Now this….. Its digusting to have to wait for soemthing that might not ever come out. If i don;t see this by January 2015 im not paying for it when it comes out i will stream it.

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