U.S. Rights To River Phoenix’s Final Film Picked Up At Cannes

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May 16, 2014 | 6:55pm EST

River Phoenix’s final film has been snapped up at the Cannes Film Festival 21 years after the tragic actor’s death.
Production on director George Sluizer’s Dark Blood came to a halt following the star’s drug overdose death at Los Angeles’ Viper Room on 31 October, 1993 and the moviemaker has spent the last two decades trying to revive the project and complete it.
His efforts paid off on Friday when executives at Lionsgate picked up the film’s North American rights.
Sluizer tells The Hollywood Reporter, “When River died, the movie was totally canceled and everyone went away. It was declared impossible to finish. The insurance company decided to destroy the film.”
The 82-year-old Dutch director reveals he had to stop footage he’d shot from being destroyed in a London warehouse, adding, “We got all the equipment on a truck and I gave the order to send the film to New York, and then to a cinema museum in Holland.
“The negatives were still good but part of the sound needed to be rebuilt and re-recorded. And only 65 per cent of the story was shot… so I had to rewrite the story.”
Sluizer suffered another set back three years ago, when members of Phoenix’s family made it clear they wanted nothing to do with the film.
Dark Blood premiered in Berlin, Germany in February, 2013 and played at the Miami Film Festival in Florida a month later. The film is currently on release in Japan.