At the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Yari Film Group premiered Brett Simon’s Assassination of a High School President, a film noir mystery set inside the world of a John Hughes-style High School comedy. It quickly emerged as one of the underdogs on the schedule to become one of the most buzzed about films at the festival. Unfortunately, Yari Film Group was forced into involuntary bankruptcy, and the film has been sitting on the shelf ever since. This has presented a very serious problem for theatrical distribution, and because of the legalities of bankruptcy court, the timing of this economic downturn and a whole slew of other worst-case-scenarios, Assassination is on the verge of losing its opportunity to have the theatrical run it deserves.
There might still be hope. Studios are still deciding whether or not they want to take a financial risk by buying the theatrical rights, spending cash on P&A and distributing the movie theatrically. Sony has the home video distribution rights, and from a business standpoint, they think it makes more sense to send the film direct to dvd. But I, like many others, think that Assassination of a High School President deserves to be seen on the big screen. What can you do? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, become a fan of the film on Facebook, and spread the word. Distributors like Sony Pictures Classics, Samuel Goldwyn, Fox Searchlight, etc need to see that there’s an audience out there waiting for an opportunity to see this film.
Why should you care about this movie? Here is what some other people have said about the film
- Ken Evans called it “a film that I fell in love with within the first 15 minutes” and “I would have walked right back into the theater to see again if I could have.”
- Mel Valentin called it “wholly satisfying, enthralling high school-noir every bit the equal of Brick.”
- MTV said “the film is stuffed with so many rapid-fire laughs that you’ll need to watch it multiple times — especially so you can memorize all the super-quotable lines.”
- Film School Rejects said it one of those films that makes you “want to run to the top of a mountain and shout its praises”, calling it “smart, sexy and rich with supporting characters that are at some points as interesting as those who get the spotlight.”
- ComingSoon called it “a funnier and more biting look at high school than any we’ve seen in some time”.
- UGO calls it “nothing short of brilliant, a hilarious noir-comedy mixture in which each character is more colorful than the last.”
- FirstShowing says “The comedy never stops, the story is full of twists that keep you on the edge of your seat, and overall this is one of the best balances of mystery and comedy that I’ve seen in ages” and calls it “a great movie that deserves endless appreciation.”
- Aint It Cool News says “it’s witty characters and style make it the kind of film you’d want to visit a few times over just to hang out with it a little more.”
Many people have drawn comparisons between this film and Rian Johnson’s indie masterpiece Brick, and it would be hard not to. As I wrote in my original Sundance review “Assassination is not a copy of Brick, in fact, it was written before Brick. Imagine if John Hughes had made Chinatown set in a High School. So where Brick was a hardcore film noir story set in the world of high school students, Assassination is a high school movie with a noir mystery storyline.” I always thought of it as a more accessible, more marketable film…