When a filmmaker as respected as Joe Carnahan makes a movie that never sees the light of day, it’s pretty big news, not to mention tremendously disappointing. But that’s just what happened with Stetch, The Grey director’s action-comedy about “a down-on-his-luck chauffeur looking to relieve his debt by driving around a mysterious billionaire who drags him to hell and back.”
Though the cast (including Patrick Wilson, Ed Helms, Chris Pine, Jessica Alba, Brooklyn Dekker, James Badge Dale, Shaun Toub, Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff) was impeccable, and all signs indicated that the film was going to be great, Universal was unwilling to sink $40 million into marketing Stretch. Why, you may ask? According to Carnahan himself, who spoke with Collider during the TCA Press Tour to promote his upcoming NBC series State of Affairs, it had to do with how Stretch was made, but he promises the film’s troubles mean nothing for its quality:
“When you guys see it, I honestly think people are going to be like, “Wow! It’s fantastic! I don’t know what all the hub bub was about.” But listen, I get it. When you make a movie that inexpensively, you enable a situation whereby people feel like, “Well, we don’t want to put $40 million toward it.” I get that. In my mind, we were trying to do what they did with the horror genre for action comedies. We wanted to make it really inexpensive. I’ve said this to friends of mine, but you don’t want to start feeling like Don Quixote, and like you’re this madman, tilting at windmills. I know, inherently, as a creative and as a filmmaker, when I wift. I can say, “Yeah, I didn’t put the bat to the ball the way that I wanted to.
“That’s so not the case with Stretch. It’s so good. It’s like a kid running around the house. You clean him up, you give him a hair-cut, you put him in a nice suit, so that he can go out and make a living. That’s all this is, right now. Because it was made at such an impoverished budgetary level, I’ve had to really be resourceful with how it’s being stitched together. Because I want it to be like a really beautiful suit, it takes time. You don’t have the means or the money or the resources to just throw endless amounts of dough at it.”
With the few resources actually available to him, however, Carnahan is still honing the movie, alongside a skillful editor he teamed with on The Grey and multiple other projects:
“Jason Hellmann, who cut The Grey, The Blacklist and State of Affairs for me, and I are re-cutting it right now and just doing little things to it. He was busy. He was doing Deliver Us From Evil, so I couldn’t get him. But, I finally got him. So, watching it come together with a guy that I have such a creative shorthand with is so wonderful and so much fun. It opens up in all these ways that I didn’t consider before. So, that was my long-winded response to say that you needn’t fear. You will see it.”
But when, Carnahan, when?? Us genre fans are an impatient bunch, don’t you know. Luckily, Carnahan assures us that Stretch will be hitting the festival circuit quite soon indeed:
“I’m going to debut it at a festival that is neither Toronto nor Sundance. That will be at the end of the year. But I’m not going to say which one, and I’m not going to say the theater. If you followed me, you could piece it together. I’m really excited to have an audience sit with that film and see it the way it’s meant to be seen. That’s really exciting to me. So yes, you will see it this year.”
Well, there you have it. Despite all Stretch‘s post-production woes, you can’t keep a good director down, and thanks to Carnahan’s labors, the movie is going to see a theater screen eventually. As for where Stretch might hit first, I agree with Collider’s take that Fantastic Fest seems an appropriate venue, but I’m just crossing my fingers that it will land on VOD very soon after that.