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Movie held hostage: 'Knights of Badassdom'

Posted Friday, August 31, 2012 at 4:46 PM Central
Last updated Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 11:40 AM Central

by John Couture

What if I told you that there was this amazing film called Knights of Badassdom that starred some of the hottest talent in Hollywood, but that you can't see it? I'm sure you will have the same reaction that scores of fans of the film have on a daily basis, what's the holdup?

There's a little thing in Hollywood that everyone knows exists, but few people talk about. It goes by a variety of names, but usually you hear it referred to as "Movie Purgatory" or "Hollywood's Black Hole." It's where all those films go when they get the proverbial "shelving treatment."

But why does this practice still exist?

Back in 2010, The LA Times featured a story on the practice and concluded that there wasn't really any overriding reason for it, but that it seems to be happening with more frequency lately.

In fact, there's a myriad of reasons for films being "pushed" or "shelved." Some are legitimate as studios work out rights issues or finish up post-production, while others are a bit more hazy. We all remember Fanboys and the circuitous route it took to release. First, the film was moved to accommodate the filming of new scenes and then there was the highly controversial debate about axing the main cancer plot thread.

With Fanboys, the constant delays hurt the film and the fan base became fractured to a point that when it got a token theatrical release, it only earned about $500,000 at the box office. It certainly out-performed its theatrical expectations on home video, but one has to wonder how things might have turned out had they been able to release the film when they wanted to in order to capture on the strong word of mouth.

At least Fanboys got a release. One film from Hollywood lore is Don's Plum, which has yet to receive a U.S. release despite boasting such stars as Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. In fact, for Don's Plum the star power is the main reason that you will most likely never see the film.

Leo and Tobey sued the producers to prevent the film from being released in the United States and won. Other times, it's the film's subject matter itself that holds it back. The depiction of slavery is the primary reason that Disney has shelved Song of the South.

This brings us back to Knights of Badassdom which made its debut at Comic Con in late July of 2011. During its Comic Con panel director Joe Lynch debuted the film's trailer and a clip from the movie. The trailer was so badass that we even featured it in a story on our site.

Naturally, the film and its panel scored a direct hit at Comic Con. I mean this is the film's core target demographic. It could only be more attractive to this bunch if Comic Con King Kevin Smith himself had a cameo in it.

Alas, he does not, but the film was still a huge hit. Despite the great reception, the release date was the ever hazy, "Coming Soon." A few months went by and while people would inquire from time to time on Facebook and, even on this site, about its fate, it had not reached a panic level at that point.

By looking at the trailer, you can tell that there are a fair amount of special effects to be completed and the old adage of doing it right rather than fast definitely applies here. Towards the end of 2011, panic started to creep in.

On IMDb, a poster calling him or herself "guana9999" claimed to be involved with the film on some level and indicated that the film was targeting a 2012 Sundance debut with a "full release to follow soon after."

The "Coming Soon" tag was changed to reflect a 2012 release and hope was restored. As 2012 wore on though, the same feeling of concern started to sweep through the fans. With the dawn of July, enter Craig Skinner from HeyUGuys.co.uk who uncovered an interesting nugget with a bit of old fashioned Internet sleuthing.

Craig found this report over at RipoffReport.com, a consumer advocacy website that allows consumers to share grievances with, well, the rest of the Internet. It should be noted anyone can post anything on RipoffReport.com without providing any evidence to support their claim.

Furthermore, the proprietors of the website take pride in the fact that they don't censor any of the complaints or do any sort of due diligence. No, really they wrote a ton about it. I'm not here to take a side, I just want to make sure that this story is balanced and completely transparent.

The anonymous complaint in question claimed to be from a financial backer of a company called IndieVest. You can read the whole thing for yourself, but basically it claimed that the powers in charge of IndieVest were creating a shell company called Media Society so that they could release Knights of Badassdom under that label and stiff the original financial backers of the film with IndieVest.

For the record, no one from IndieVest has responded to that claim, but it's not the only claim on RipoffReport.com against IndieVest.

I should probably take a moment to explain exactly what IndieVest is and how it plays into the story. IndieVest is a company that allows individuals to invest in select independent films that they curate. As Founder and CEO Wade Bradley said "our motto is connecting film and capital."

I should also point out that on their "Team Page" IndieVest lists actors Liev Schreiber, Don Cheadle, Tim Blake Nelson and Mike Binder as being on their "IndieVest Pictures Advisor Board."

The first film that IndieVest produced was Saint John of Las Vegas which saw a modest theatrical release and grossed $102,645. The film starred Steve Buscemi, Sarah Silverman and Peter Dinklage and made its way onto DVD on July 13, 2010.

Knights of Badassdom is the second film that IndieVest has produced.

The other RipoffReport.com claim against IndieVest is from 2008 and it is from a writer who purports that IndieVest stole an idea from him or her. IndieVest Founder and CEO Wade Bradley did reply to this claim and even followed up his reply to update that the alleged victim never came forward to address the matter further.

Earlier this week, we got a request on our Facebook page about the current status of Knights of Badassdom and I started to do a bit of digging. Mainly, I was curious because I remembered the trailer and after watching it again, I couldn't for the life of me fathom why this film was pushed or shelved.

It had a great Comic Con reception and has amassed a cult-like following online. Not only that, but the stars of the film are currently among the hottest actors and actresses in Hollywood. Ryan Kwanten is a star of HBO hit True Blood while Peter Dinklage headlines the other HBO hit show Game of Thrones. Summer Glau is incredibly popular in the film's key demo and the rest of the cast features a lot of recognizable talent.

So, I figured there had to be a reason for the film being in limbo. First, I reached out to director Joe Lynch, who is very active on Twitter. I wasn't really expecting an answer, so his swift reply caught me by surprise.

On one hand, Joe's reply seemed to indicate that his work on the film was done, but on the other hand, he alluded that IndieVest was the culprit for the holdup.

The next place I turned to was Knights of Badassdom producing partner North By Northwest Entertainment. I contacted Brad Harland, the CFO of North By Northwest Entertainment and inquired about the current status of Knights of Badassdom.

Brad also replied to my inquiry quickly, but sadly his response echoed the statement from Joe. North By Northwest Entertainment's involvement in the picture was limited to production and the only ones that knew about the status of the film was IndieVest.

It was clear that I was going to have to get in touch with IndieVest directly in order to get a status update, let alone a reason for the delay. My emails to their general contact email addresses on their website went unanswered, so I decided to give them a call.

At this point, I didn't know what to expect when I picked up the phone. I dialed the toll free number listed on their website, half-expecting to get an "out of service" notice or for the call to keep ringing into infinity.

To my great surprise, the call was answered on the second ring.

"Media Society," said the voice on the other end of the phone. Well, that wasn't quite what I expected, so I double-checked the number from the website and asked if this was indeed the number for IndieVest.

The gentleman assured me that it was indeed the number for both Media Society and IndieVest and I went into my spiel. As it turns out, the voice on the other end of the line was none other than IndieVest Founder and CEO Wade Bradley who explained to me that his new venture Media Society is gearing up for its big debut.

Indeed, the web site for Media Society does advertise a September 1, 2012 debut, although it remains to be seen whether or not it will be delayed like Knights of Badassdom.

UPDATE: The Media Society web site did indeed go active today. Interestingly, the same four people featured on the IndieVest site are listed on Media Society's site: Wade Bradley, Will Mayall, Jeremy Kopp and Helen Rosenberg. However, there is no mention of IndieVest on Media Society, but they do refer to a FilmVest Studios a couple of times. I could not track down any information on FilmVest Studios at this time.

I should point out here that the goal of this story is not to pass judgment, but only to provide all of the facts that I was able to uncover and let you make up your own mind. That being said, I don't know too many CEOs who answer their company's toll-free phone number.

Mr. Bradley was actually quite receptive to my inquiries when he could have just blown me off. At this point I was ready for effusive double talk and a slew of no comments, but instead he was quite open about the film and his passion for the project easily traveled down the line.

According to Mr. Bradley, Knights of Badassdom is going to be released theatrically in "the first half of 2013." When I pressed him for specifics on the release strategy (limited vs. wide release, etc.), he said that the results from test screenings would dictate how wide of a release it would ultimately get.

That being said, he was confident that the film would test well and get a proper theatrical release. He said that "the fans will be well-rewarded for their wait."

As for the reason for the wait, Mr. Bradley didn't get into specifics but did state that the film was still in post production and wasn't finished yet. To that end, he did reveal that Daniel Heffner was brought in recently to work on the film. Heffner is best known for producing and executive producing the Saw franchise of films.

In news related to Knights of Badassdom, Mr. Bradley alerted me to an interesting documentary that is currently in production. It's called Men in Suits and it's pretty much what you think it is.

The project interviews the men and women who don (or donned) the suits in some of our favorite monster films. In relation to Knights of Badassdom the documentary followed Douglas Tait who plays the creature Abominog in the film. They followed Tait from the earliest suit fitting up until the first night of shooting.

Now, I'm a sucker for documentaries about the film industry, especially those that shed light onto the under-appreciated areas of film making. Mr. Bradley stated that the film makers have recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,500 to cover the first run of DVDs. So far, they have over $9,700 pledged so at least a part of Knights of Badassdom will see the light of day this year.

Speaking of Knights of Badassdom, the Kickstarter page for Men in Suits does have a clip called First Fitting which features Tait having his first fitting in the Abominog suit. I asked Mr. Bradley whether we would see any of the footage that was shot of Douglas Tait for Men in Suits on the eventual Knights of Badassdom DVD or Blu-ray and he said that they have had "some discussions" about it.

Men in Suits will have its cast and crew screening in October at Son of Monsterpalooza with the DVD release to follow thereafter.

I did ask Mr. Bradley that with the sheer number of fans clamoring and practically begging for information on Knights of Badassdom why they have chosen to remain quiet about the status of the film. He said that they made a conscious decision not to actively engage the fans instead choosing to let the finished product speak for itself - whenever that may be.

It's a risky proposition to be sure. You only have to look at the track record of Fanboys to see how it can backfire on you. The fans patience is finite and the cast won't stay this hot forever.

The longer they wait to release Knights of Badassdom, the further they distance themselves from the great buzz from their Comic Con debut. Right now, the "official word" is that Knights of Badassdom will hit theaters in the first half of 2013. That's surely better than the nebulous "Coming Soon," but it's still a long way from having an actual release date.

Here's to hoping that this time, there won't be any further delays. We will keep an eye on developments surrounding this film and let you know what we hear. In the meantime, I can't think of a better way to end this piece than to check out the amazing trailer for Knights of Badassdom one more time.