Don’t believe Wikipedia or that “Hunger Games” fan website: The movie adaptation of Ron Rash’s “Serena” is not likely to be released in the U.S. on Sept. 27.
“ ‘Serena’ doesn’t have a U.S. distributor yet,” Hollywood Reporter film editor Gregg Kilday confirmed Monday. “So no release date.”
The film, directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier and filmed in the spring and early summer of 2012 in the Czech Republic — standing in for Haywood County — has been in post-production for going on two years. Its fate has been newly debated in recent weeks in part because new photos from the set were posted online last month.
Hundreds of independently financed features are made every year that never get theatrical distribution in the U.S., so “Serena’s” fate might not seem so dramatic — were it not for the film’s talent roster. It stars Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence in the title role, the ruthless wife of an equally ruthless logging magnate in 1920s Waynesville. Serena’s husband is played by Bradley Cooper, her Oscar-nominated co-star in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.” And director Bier won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2011 for her Danish film “In a Better World.”
Then there’s the novel’s pedigree: a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. But its author, Ron Rash, the John Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University, is also in the dark as to the film’s fate.
Rash said in a statement that he is aware of the rumored release dates but does not have any official word on when the movie might come out. Rash did not write the screenplay, which is credited to Christopher Kyle (who co-wrote Oliver Stone’s “Alexander”).
Bier is not talking, and has moved on. IndieWire reports that she’s in post-production on a film called “A Second Chance,” with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime on “Game of Thrones”) and earlier this month landed Cate Blanchett for a movie titled “The Dig,” which is in pre-production.
Whether Bier has even completed “Serena” is unknown, since it has not been shown at any film festivals. The Hollywood Reporter, citing the film’s long post-production period, recently quoted an unnamed “insider” as saying, “It was just a real precision edit because the story is about a woman’s descent into madness. And Susanne is a total perfectionist.”
An unsourced online report suggested that the movie remains unfinished because Lawrence — who has finished at least three movies since “Serena” wrapped, including the third “Hunger Games” installment and this summer’s “X-Men: Days of Future Passed” — has been too busy to re-record dialogue ruined by airplane noise on the set near Prague.
Finished or not, IMDB.com reports that the movie has distributors in Europe and India, and The Hollywood Reporter said in November that the movie would soon be screened for U.S. distributors, and that “the Weinstein Co. and Fox Searchlight [are] already interested in the project.”
But the silence since December suggests that the screenings for distributors either never happened or went nowhere.
Apparently frustrated that his work was not being seen, the film’s production designer, Richard Bridgland, last month posted online a number of film stills showing off the streets of “Waynesville,” the courthouse and some interior sets.
For the moment, that’s all anyone gets to see of “Serena.”