Christopher Nolan Rescued Jake Gyllenhaal’s Breakout Film ‘Donnie Darko’ After Realizing The Sci-Fi Thriller’s Brilliant Potential

Christopher Nolan Rescued Jake Gyllenhaal’s Breakout Film ‘Donnie Darko’ After Realizing The Sci-Fi Thriller’s Brilliant Potential
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One of the biggest cult classics recognized in today’s day and age, Donnie Darko created history with its flawed yet captivating storyline. But the beloved sci-fi thriller would have never made it to the big screens and would have just sat there gathering dust had it not been for renowned filmmaker Christopher Nolan.

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Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko (2001)

As it turns out, when the film was unable to find any distributors because of the risk involved, the Interstellar director realized the true and remarkably brilliant potential of Jake Gyllenhaal’s breakout film Donnie Darko that other distributors failed to see and ended up saving it from being cast aside and never making it to the worldwide audiences.

Also Read: After Mark Wahlberg’s Rejection, $7.5M Cult-Classic That Immortalized Jake Gyllenhaal Getting Threequel? Director Says He’s Starting To “Discover New Things”

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Jake Gyllenhaal’s Breakout Film Donnie Darko Almost Didn’t Get A Distributor

Jake Gyllenhaal in a still from Donnie Darko (2001)
Jake Gyllenhaal in a still from Donnie Darko (2001)

Also Read: Not Henry Cavill, Christopher Nolan’s Rumored Entry as James Bond Director Can Potentially Make Avengers 2 Star the New 007

Over two decades ago, with immense hope and confidence in the film, director Richard Kelly had Donnie Darko premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19th, 2001. However, being in the same field with films like Memento and In the Bedroom, the movie failed to catch the spotlight it deserved, and Kelly’s hope and confidence went down the drain.

Furthermore, because of the complexity of the sci-fi thriller, no one wanted to take the risk of distributing the film. Recalling the situation in an interview with The Ringer, filmmaker Richard Kelly said:

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“Four, [or] five months after Sundance, there’s still no distribution deal. The songs had not been paid for. We were going to have to lose all the music. They were saying cut 30 minutes out of the movie. It was looking really grim.” 

That’s when Aaron Ryder, executive producer, received a call asking them to try and release the film. Hoping once again for the movie to finally take off, he ended up calling his bosses at Newmarket [Films] along with filmmaker Christopher Nolan and his wife, Emma, at the screening as well.

“When the lights came up, Chris and his wife both turned to the Newmarket executives, Chris Ball and Will Tyrer, and they both looked over at them and they nodded. They were like, ‘You guys should distribute this.’ And they gave me some suggestions. Chris and his wife, it was their idea to put the parenthetical beneath the title cards.” 

Thus, relieved and happy, the filmmakers had Donnie Darko further improvise as per the corrections and suggestions. However, it still didn’t receive the green flag for getting released in the theatres… until Nolan decided to take a stance for it.

Also Read: “It tells you how to act”: The Dark Knight Actor Gary Oldman Spilled Christopher Nolan’s Secret After Revealing Strange Details About The Director’s Famed IMAX Camera

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How Christopher Nolan Ended Up Saving Donnie Darko

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan

While the film was finally approved, Newmarket Films still wasn’t willing to give Donnie Darko a theatrical release and instead insisted on putting it to home video. Remembering the grim situation, Richard Kelly continued in the interview with The Ringer:

“Then we had to bring Drew Barrymore in to basically beg Newmarket to give it a theatrical release because they were still like, ‘Yeah, we’re just going to put it to home video.’”

That’s when Christopher Nolan stepped in to save the film. Since he had already earned the respect of the Newmarket executives with his previous film Memento, the filmmaker was able to rescue the cult classic from ending up in ruins.

“Chris [Nolan] convinced Newmarket to buy it and once they had bought it, we were not going to let them get away with not giving it a theatrical release. Once they had committed to a Halloween release, it was sort of set.”

Thanks to the film’s unbelievable captivation, Donnie Darko finally received the green flag and made it to the big screens to act as Jake Gyllenhaal‘s breakthrough role. Though it went under the rubble initially because of 9/11, it later found its much-deserved appreciation over the years to become one of the best cult classics to exist to date.

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Source: The Ringer

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Written by Mahin Sultan

Articles Published: 1225

Mahin Sultan is a News Content Writer at FandomWire. With almost one year's worth of experience in her field, she has explored and attained a deep understanding of numerous topics in various niches, mostly entertainment.

An all-things-good enthusiast, Mahin is currently pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Commerce, and her love for entertainment has given her a solid foundation of reporting in the same field. Besides being a foodie, she loves to write and spends her free time either with her nose buried in a good book or binging on COD or K-dramas, anime, new movies, and TV serials (the awesome ones, obviously).

So far, Mahin's professional portfolio has more than 500 articles written on various niches, including Entertainment, Health and wellbeing, and Fashion and trends, among others.