The Weinstein Company has pulled transgender drama About Ray three days before its scheduled September 18 US release date.
While TWC gave no reason for the cancellation, the Wrap speculates that the film’s mixed reception at the Toronto International Film Festival last week and competition from fellow transgender drama The Danish Girl caused the the company to scuttle plans for its release.
About Ray will likely hit theaters later this year well in time for awards season, although no new release date has been set. The film stars Elle Fanning as a New York City teen who decides to transition from female to male and Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon as her mother and lesbian grandmother, respectively, who attempt to come to grips with the transition.
Interestingly, Deadline reports that the film received a standing ovation at its TIFF premiere and garnered positive reviews in the Hollywood trades. Variety‘s Andrew Barker called the film a “crowdpleaser” whose “beating heart outweighs most of its contrivances.”
Instead, Deadline speculates that the Weinstein Company is afraid of competition from what is likely going to be the juggernaut transgender-themed film of awards season, the Eddie Redmayne-fronted Danish Girl. That film stars Redmayne, fresh off a Best Actor Oscar win for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in last year’s The Theory of Everything, as painter Lili Elbe, who became one of the first documented recipients of gender reassignment surgery in the 1920s. The Tom Hooper-directed film pulled rave reviews at its own TIFF premiere last week.
TWC paid a hefty $6 million to acquire About Ray at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, so the company is going to make sure it sees a proper release. But the reason for the film’s cancellation could also come down to cash flow problems; the company is releasing six films during the first half of the year, including Bradley Cooper chef dramedy Burnt, Cate Blanchett-Rooney Mara lesbian romance Carol, Michael Fassbender-fronted Macbeth, and Quentin Tarantino’s Christmas Day Western The Hateful Eight.
Behind the scenes, the Weinstein Company is also reportedly still reeling from the loss of several key executives in late July as well as a failed sale of its TV division to British broadcaster ITV in May.
TWC co-founder Harvey Weinstein told the Hollywood Reporter last month that he is still calm despite the turmoil at his company.
“We got our ass kicked in 2008, but no bullsh*t, I think the company financially is the best it’s ever been right now,” he said.