The ‘Above Suspicion’ Distribution Clusterf***

Jeffrey Wells’s influential “Hollywood Elsewhere” column has done the movie world the favor of running down the story of the years’-long fiasco of distribution of “Above Suspicion.” The movie — completed in 2017 — has been popping up randomly around the world as various investors squabbled over the post-production “prints and advertising” budget. The anticipated release in U.S. cinemas got postponed, till it ran head-on into the pandemic shutdown this spring.

As I noted here the other day, this cinematic Flying Dutchman will next be streaming on Monday (July 13) in the U.K. As Wells reports, the star of the movie, Emilia Clarke, “is rightly proud of her performance as the murdered FBI informant Susan Smith, and would have granted interviews to generate interest [but] was never even told about rthe British streaming release until a couple of days ago.”

Here’s a link to Wells’s “Hollywood Elsewhere” column. (Note: The online hedline incorrectly calls the movie “Under Suspicion.”) In the column, Phillip Noyce, the director,  is quoted as saying of the UK release: “The thought that the movie I’ve loved is not even being respected with the dignity of us all being informed of its release just sickens me.”

Wells himself reviewed the movie about two years ago, writing in part: ” … Above Suspicion damn sure feels like an early ’70s film. I mean that in the most complimentary way you could possibly imagine. It’s about real people, tough decisions, yokel culture, corruption, Percocets, hot car sex and lemme-outta-here. There’s no sense of 21st Century corporate wankery. Adults who believe in real movies made this thing, and they did so with an eye for tension and inevitable plot-turns and fates dictated by character and anxiety and, this being rural Kentucky, bad karma and bad luck. …”

Two years ago, I found out, and advised several of the producers, that the movie had been released in theaters in the Middle Wast and also abruptly dubbed and released in Turkey (Turkey?) under the title “Suphe Otesy” (roughly, “Above Suspicion”). That was followed, weirdly, by digital releases in Greece, Japan, Spain, and who knows where else.

It was reviewed the other day in The Guardian, the UK newspaper, and now that it’s going loose in Britain, other major reviews will undoubtedly follow.

The U.S. market? Roadside Attractions, the distributor, had finally booked the movie into U.S. theaters for release in May. The coronavirus shutdowns scuttled that. There is now speculation of a possible theatrical release later this year or early next year.

As Noyce points out in Wells’s column, releasing the movie here and there over the past two years “sparked piracy all over the world,” and adversely affects its value in major markets.

I haven’t seen the movie, by the way, though I was a consultant on location in Harlan, Kentucky. I did write the book. It was published originally in hard-cover by Simon & Schuster, but I recommend the updated 2017 edition, republished by Open Road Media. My book, I would add, was researched, written, published in hard-cover and paperback,  updated in 2017, and republished in paperback and e-book — all in an orderly manner,  and on schedules, without agita.

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