EXCLUSIVE: Warm Bodies helmer Jonathan Levine has learned that zombies aren’t the only things that rise from the dead. His 2006 directorial debut, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, is finally getting a North American release through Radius-TWC, whose co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego just closed the rights deal and plans a late-summer multi-platform launch. Even though the $600,000 budget film was a sensation in its 2006 Toronto Film Festival debut, sparking an all-night auction that ended with The Weinstein Company besting two suitors by bidding $3.5 million and committing to 800 screens, Mandy Lane was never released theatrically in the U.S.
The film stars Amber Heard and Anson Mount, and is about a group of high-schoolers who invite Mandy Lane, “a good girl” who becomes the object of everyone’s affection after returning from summer break, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to mysteriously drop one at a time. Radius co-president Quinn tells me he saw the film while he worked in acquisitions at Magnolia, and he never forgot it. What happened? The film got caught in that no man’s land between direct-to-video and wide release. After a disastrous test screening, TWC wavered on whether Mandy Lane could thrive in wide release. So after an appeal by the film’s producers, TWC sold Mandy Lane a year later to Senator Entertainment US, an upstart division of the German-backed film company which planned to make Mandy Lane its first big theatrical release. The company went bust before Mandy Lane reached theaters.
Even though all Mandy Lane’s festival momentum was lost, Quinn continued to track the film over the years. Once he and Janego started TWC’s multi-platform division, Quinn was able to work with executive producer Keith Calder to collar the rights.
“It is one of my favorite horror films I’ve seen in the last decade, and if I could have afforded it at Magnolia, I would have bought it then,” Quinn told me. “We were finally able to untangle the film’s rights at a time when a multi-platform release makes perfect sense for a film like this. Jonathan’s film Warm Bodies has grossed over $60 million, and to me this movie surpasses what is available to us on the open market.”
It will certainly be tricky to take a 7-year old film and pump up excitement, but Quinn said the thriller is good enough to be embraced by a genre audience. It will be released theatrically at least in the top 50 markets and simultaneously be released on VOD.
In a statement, Harvey and Bob Weinstein said they were glad the film was finally getting its due. “We’ve always loved Mandy Lane,” they said in a statement. “Radius shares our passion for the film and will get in front of the widest possible audience.”
As for Levine (who also helmed 50/50), he said: “I am thrilled that Mandy Lane has been rescued and is back where it belongs with Harvey and Bob. Hard to believe it’s been seven years, but then again I’ve always perceived myself as a misunderstood artist who was light years ahead of his time, so I am thrilled the world has finally caught up. Seriously, I am incredibly proud of the film and of the hard work that my cast and collaborators put into it, and I am so happy the world will finally get a chance to see it.”
Here is an original trailer for the film when it was released in the UK, years ago: