Terry Gilliam's cursed Don Quixote movie is in peril as first trailer emerges

Ben Arnold
·Contributor

Update: Despite news earlier today that Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was facing more woes after being in development for over 20 years, the first trailer has arrived online. Watch it below.

The trailer shows Jonathan Pryce as the man who thinks he’s Don Quixote, and Adam Driver as an advertising exec who Quixote assumes to be his loyal squire Sancho Panza.

Terry Gilliam (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Terry Gilliam (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Original story: Back when Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote movie set was swept into the desert by biblical weather, perhaps he should have just read the signs, and walked away.

But no, the Monty Python legend and director of movies like 12 Monkeys and Time Bandits persevered, through ever-changing casts and insurance disasters, and began filming his adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ classic tale again in 2014.

With Jonathan Pryce as the titular hidalgo and Adam Driver starring, things began to look up, with a release over 20 years from when production first began slated for the Cannes Film Festival next month.

However, those plans have now been dashed, and it’s possible that the film may not see the light of day until a new legal battle is resolved.

Per an article on the French site France Inter, a producer Gilliam was initially working with on the project has now put a spanner in the works.

Paulo Branco agreed to fund the newly invigorated project in 2016, in exchange for the film’s rights.

But when he failed to come up with the money and threatened to shut down pre-production, Gilliam, moved on to secure other financing.

Now Branco is saying that the film cannot be shown without his say so, while Gilliam argues that any contract is now void as Branco failed to keep his end of the bargain.

(Credit: Recorded Picture Company)
(Credit: Recorded Picture Company)

Gilliam has sued Branco over the rights, but according to France Inter, a judgement on the case won’t be handed down until June 15, meaning that the film will most likely miss its planned premiere at Cannes and its May release date.

However, should the judgement rule that Branco has a case, it could mean further peril for this seemingly cursed project.

It first began production in 1998, with shooting beginning in 2000, with French actor Jean Rochefort in the lead, and Johnny Depp as Toby, an advertising executive who Don Quixote mistakes for Sancho Panza.

The shoot was plagued with problems, from F-16 fighter jets from a nearby NATO base constantly buzzing the location north of Madrid, to flash floods which swept away camera equipment and changed the colour the entire arid landscape, making for a continuity nightmare.

Rochefort then became ill, and was diagnosed with a double herniated disc (the likes of John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Gérard Depardieu and Michael Palin were all at one time in line to take over, with Ewan McGregor and Jack O’Connell set for the role of Toby).

But the movie was eventually abandoned – before its reinvigoration in 2014 – with the chaos being documented in the movie Lost In La Mancha.

Let’s hope The Man Who Killed Don Quixote doesn’t get lost again.

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