Rocket Post Arrives Five Years Late
Award-Winning Film Gets an Outing at Last
It was supposed to be a cinema blockbuster - the true story of a German scientist trying to deliver Scottish mail by rocket. But five years after shooting ended, and two years after the director died, The Rocket Post has only now landed a distribution deal.
The film appears to have set the record for the longest time taken for a major production to go from the last shout of "cut" to cinema release.
"The audience is getting older.... "Films that we passed on four or five years ago we may have bought now"
During the long search for a distributor, producer Mark Shorrock quit the film business to promote wind farms and director Stephen Whittaker, whose TV credits included Nicholas Nickleby and Inspector Morse, died of cancer. The cast of the £5m film, shot largely on the Hebridean island of Taransay in 2001, includes Trainspotting star Kevin McKidd, Gary Lewis from Billy Elliot and newcomer Shauna Macdonald.
In 2002, it won a major prize at the Stony Brook Film Festival in New York State, and there were other special screenings, including one at the An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway last year. The film even came out on DVD in Scandinavia, but still struggled to find a UK distributor. Now, more than five years after The Rocket Post was made, a deal has been secured with the UK division of Lions Gate - which recently distributed George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck - and it will be released in British cinemas later this year.
It seems the film's change in fortune is largely down to the fact that audiences are getting older and may be more receptive to old-fashioned dramas. Nick Manzi, Lions Gate UK's head of acquisitions, believes cinemagoers are now ready for the story about an eccentric German scientist's attempts to deliver mail to the islands by rocket and his fictionalised romance with a Scottish girl.
"The audience is getting older," he said. "Films that we passed on four or five years ago we may have bought now."
Manzi previously worked for Redbus, a small British company that was taken over by Lions Gate, and he first saw the film several years ago. "It's a very good film," he said. "We liked it, but at the time it wasn't right for us and, over quite a long period, we tracked the project.
"The difficulty with theatrical films is that the market place changes so quickly. Four or five years ago who would have thought that Brokeback Mountain or Constant Gardener would have done the sort of business that they have done?"
Brian Pendreigh's article in full appears in The Scotsman
More info on the filming of Rocket Post on the Film Hebrides website