Tag Archives: Diva

“Diva,” The Unexpected Hit

When people in the movie business talk about unexpected results, they are usually talking about sure-fire hits that ended up not working. Every once in a while the opposite is true. Such was the case with “Diva.”

The first time I saw “Diva” was in a small screening room in the United Artists building at 729 Seventh Ave. It had been brought to the U.A. Classics team by Norbert Auerbach, who was running U.A.’s international division at the time, and if I’m remembering correctly, it was his wife who had recommended the film. While we found it enjoyable, we passed on it. It just seemed too pop and too mainstream for the art film audience we were used to catering to. It had already opened and flopped in France.

Several months later, I was at the Toronto Film Festival. The moment I arrived I was accosted by David Overbey, a prominent film critic and programmer for the festival, who tried to convince me to see “Diva,” which was emerging as the hit of the festival. I told him we’d seen it and already passed. At that point, the film’s directory, Jean-Jacques Beineix, began to stalk me. Every party I went to, he was there and in my face. He told me of the incredible reaction the film was getting, the fact that the festival had already scheduled additional screenings, pleading with me to see it again with an audience. So finally, I gave in and went to a screening. And yes, the audience response was electric.

We ended up making a deal to acquire the film for a $30,000 advance. (more…)

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Thoughts on the Re-release of ‘Diva’

The re-release of Jean Jacques Beneix’s “Diva” has brought back a lot of memories for me. I was working at United Artists Classics when we released the film in the U.S., and I find it fascinating to read about the film’s history in the various articles that have appeared in the last week. Having been there when it all happened, there’s a lot of misinformation floating around. The film was NOT an instant hit or a sensation upon release. Quite the contrary. In fact the film was a complete flop when it was first released in France. No U.S. distributor was interested in it. The film came to us at U.A. and we passed on it…at least twice.

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