Lionsgate will release Francis Ford Coppola’s recut of his 1984 film The Cotton Club in select theaters on Oct. 11, with a screening at the New York Film Festival prior on Oct. 5. The pic will arrive on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on Dec. 10 with exclusive new bonus material.
The pic which stars Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Gregory Hines, Bob Hoskins, Laurence Fishburne and Nicolas Cage is set against 1930s Harlem and the legendary Cotton Club which was a crossroads for entertainers and gangsters. When the film was released, it was seen as a crime drama centering around Gere’s Dixie Dwyer character, but Coppola meant for it to be a story of two main characters, one white and one black, navigating life in and around the Cotton Club with their families. The film was deemed too long during post production in 1984, with stakeholders forcing Coppola to minimize Hines’ character and lose many musical numbers.
Along with his team at American Zoetrope, Coppola set out to create an updated version that would more closely resemble the original intentions of the film. This new version of the film, shown only three times previously during the 2017 Telluride Film Festival, features additional scenes such as an extended Gregory Hines and Maurice Hines tap performance, Lonette McKee’s brilliant rendition of Ethel Waters’ “Stormy Weather,” Coppola’s originally envisioned ending, and more.
In an exclusive interview with Deadline co-Editor-in-Chief Mike Fleming back in May, Coppola said, “I always felt that the movie got cut down; there was 25 or 30 minutes taken out and a lot of the black story got cut out. I found the Betamax of the original cut. I don’t think in the release version of The Cotton Club you really understand what’s happening between the black folks and the white folks and the gangsters. You don’t quite get it because it’s been so truncated.” Coppola asked MGM if he could do a new version, and though they initially declined, after the filmmaker put up $40K, he got access to the pic’s materials.
“To my horror, the 25-30 minutes that was taken out, no one knew where the negative was. It didn’t exist anymore. We searched and searched and finally found a good enough print. If you have a good print you can copy a good print and then, with a lot of expensive CG, you could bring it up,” said Coppola who spent about half million dollars of his own money for the pic’s restoration.
Coppola’s recent Apocalypse Now Final Cut was released on Aug. 16 with a DVD/Blu-Ray/digital release on Aug. 27.
“The Apocalypse Final Cut version and this version of The Cotton Club are the best version of those movies and there’s logic to why. I’m older and I’m less frightened and I’m less easily bullied. What have I got to lose?”