Polanski’s movie could be double trouble in U.S.
By PETER BART
Roman Polanski may be facing a tough slate of legal and financial problems, but his film career seems solidly back on track.
His new movie, “The Ghost Writer,” is locked, except for visual effects, and it will premiere in the main section of the Berlin Film Festival Feb. 11-21. Rights to the $35 million film have been sold around the world. Summit, a company that’s been on a hot streak this year thanks to the “Twilight” franchise and “The Hurt Locker,” last week acquired North American rights.
We think the movie is an outstanding Hitchcockian thriller,” said Patrick Wachsberger, who runs Summit with Rob Friedman.
The Ghost Writer,” based on the Robert Harris bestseller, will likely stir up controversy on two levels, the distributors realize. There is first the possibility of Polanski’s extradition to the U.S., where he could face another trial on the 1977 charge of having sex with an underage girl.
The Ghost Writer” deals with Tony Blair’s role in the war in Iraq. The movie, like the novel, suggests Blair was conned by President Bush into an Iraq intervention and that Blair’s wife, Cherie, was complicit — she may even have had a CIA connection.
The war in Iraq is an incendiary topic in the U.K. at the moment as a result of a government investigation. Pierce Brosnan plays the Blair character in the film. Ewan McGregor also has an important role as a journalist who helps the prime minister write his book.
According to Wachsberger, Polanski has been working on the subtitled versions of his film and has approved the final cut. He is under house arrest at his Gstaad chalet. “We have talked on the telephone, and Roman sounds in good spirits now that he is sleeping in his own bed and is reunited with his wife and family,” Wachsberger said,
Summit’s bosses do not believe that Polanski’s problems will interfere with the film’s release or marketing. “Roman is a well respected artist and people will judge his film as art,” Freedman said.
If the movie is great, Polanski’s name will be a positive,” Wachsberger said. “If it is average, his problems may possibly become a negative. But we think it is great.”
The film was originally funded by pre-sales. It was shot in Germany with subsidies and tax money, the locations doubling for London and Martha’s Vineyard.