The Magnificent Ambersons released in Europe?
Doubts cast over Orson Welles remake
The fate of the newly re-vamped The Magnificent Ambersons is still hanging in the balance.
Filming of the story based on Booth Tarkington’s 1918 novel has just been completed on location in Dublin with Mexican director Alfonso Arau in the hotseat.
The £10 million Italian and German-backed production is destined to appear on America’s A&E channel in the summer as a four-part mini-series.
But RKO which still hold the rights to the story, hopes to transform the 192 minutes of footage into a movie for European release.
The original 1942 Orson Welles film was slashed by RKO after a poor response from preview audiences.
Welles was working on another project in Brazil at the time, and believed the film could have been his greatest achievement. It disappeared almost without trace.
Veteran director and actor Arau is acclaimed for Like Water For Chocolate and A Walk In The Clouds with Keanu Reeves. He says justice has at last been done to Tarkington’s novel and Welles’s 131-page script.
“This is Alfonso Arau’s vision but of course we would like to think Orson Welles would be pleased by the work we have done,” he said.
The mini-series stars Madeleine Stowe as Isabel Amberson Minafer with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as her wayward son George.
Arau said: “We felt the best way of making this was as a mini-series. Welles was right to say the original would have been better if it had not been cut in his absence.
“Movies, however, are made for audiences and today we have a responsibility to create income for our company and we couldn’t take the risk of spending millions on trying to better something that couldn’t be bettered.
“We do believe there is enough quality there to make this into a movie for Europe. But that decision has yet to be made.”
A set recreating the Ambersons’ home town of Indianapolis was built in a suburb of Dublin. It was the largest set ever to be built in Ireland, and 2,000 extras and 200 horses were used by Arau.