After the CineFin Corp. film Divine Rapture shut down on July 23, two weeks into filming in Ballycotton, Ireland, local pub owner Stephen Pearce erected a memorial stone in the coastal village that read, ”R.I.P. Divine Rapture.” Fat chance. The corpse is likely to be dissected in court, where creditors, cast, and crew will sort out how such a high-profile film could get so far without firm financing.
”The major actors would not have moved without having their salaries in escrow,” says Richard Soames of the completion bond company Film Finances. ”But this case isn’t quite normal.”
Apparently not. With a cast of some of acting’s grandest eccentrics, including Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, Debra Winger, and John Hurt, Divine Rapture — a comedy about a priest who believes in miracles — began shooting July 10, reportedly without a completion bond. What happened next to prompt the collapse is a matter of dispute, with CineFin’s chief operating officer, David Williams, pointing a finger at Rapture’s distributor, Orion Pictures, and Orion pointing right back. Williams told The Hollywood Reporter, ”The banks felt comfortable advancing funds against a lot of elements [of Divine Rapture] except for Orion’s.” Orion president and CEO Len White has claimed CineFin was seeking an advance on an estimated $4.2 million payment not due until the movie’s video release. ”It’s another case of flimflam film financing,” says an Orion source.
Reportedly, Brando may be out most of his $4 million salary and Winger may never see any of her $1.5 million fee. (Depp was supposedly working at a reduced salary because he wanted to appear with Brando again after starring with him in last spring’s Don Juan DeMarco.) And the citizens of Ballycotton, who hope to see the producers pay their bills, are morose.
”If it had turned out to be a bad movie, we would accept it,” says town spokeswoman Sheila Egan. ”But to have no movie at all is intolerable.”
Additional reporting by Dick Cross