After nearly 20 spasmodic years in development hell, Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is facing more trouble yet again after losing American distribution. Set to release on May 19, it's unclear when - or if - it will be available for American audiences.
Behind-the-scenes drama plaguing The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is two decades in the making, and recent issues regarding production, as well as the film's release, have proven to offer the movie very little hope. The story revolves around a movie-within-a-movie involving Jonathan Pryce as an actor who becomes convinced that he actually is the man he's playing on screen, Miguel de Cervantes' fictional Don Quixote. Adam Driver plays an advertising executive named Toby Grisoni who embarks on a delusional adventure with the actor, given that he is mistaken for Don Quixote's squire Sancho Panza. The film shifts between the 21st and 17th century, exploring fictional worlds and characters, per Quixote's feeble grasp on reality. Unfortunately, long-running production woes may well carry over to the movie's official release date at the end of May, seeing as its distributor, Amazon Studios, will no longer manage U.S. distribution.
In 2015, Gilliam signed a deal with Amazon at the Cannes Film Festival for distribution and financing. However, for unspecified reasons, the studio will no longer handle the movie's domestic release, according to THR. This information comes off the heels of a legal battle between the film and producer Paulo Branco, who claims to have rights to the film, despite Gilliam's lawyer claiming that the funds that Branco promised to the production were never provided. As a result, Branco took legal action to prevent The Man Who Killed Don Quixote from screening at Cannes. It was intended to be the closing night film, and the festival entered into deliberation to officially decide whether or not Branco's demands would be met. In the end, they ultimately sided with Gilliam, allowing him to screen the movie as planned.
As if the recent legal woes weren't problematic enough, Gilliam also suffered a stroke on the same day that Amazon abandoned the movie. However, he is reportedly in good condition and currently recuperating at home.
Fascination surrounding The Man Who Killed Don Quixote's "cursed" production led to a 2002 documentary titled Lost in La Mancha, detailing all the unfortunate circumstances affecting production, including natural disasters that destroyed sets, illnesses that affected lead actors, and on-again, off-again shooting dates that recast the movie over five times in the span of 20 years. In that time, actors like Jean Rochefort, Robert Duvall, Michael Palin, and John Hurt have all been cast as Don Quixote, while Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, and Jack O'Connell have all been cast as Toby Grisoni.