Here’s the kind of Cannes story you wouldn’t expect to hear normally: After an apparently successful screening, MGM is grabbing the new Rob Schnieder movie Big Stan, a prison/martial arts comedy, even though Schneider and crew have already sold off partial rights for the film to HBO. Hell, MGM didn’t just buy it. They’ve committed to a wide December release with lots of dough for prints and advertising. It boggles the mind until you remember that it’s MGM and he is Rob Schneider.
Despite the Deuce Bigalow franchise bottoming out, Schneider does have a decent track record - fiscally-speaking, of course – with his particularly uninspired brand of “comedy.” He also happens to be extremely thin-skinned, which you would think would drive him to suicide given the critical shellacking that his films get (Advice to Schneider Haters: Be patient). Anyway, despite most people barely noticing that it came out, his last film, The Benchwarmers, made quite a tidy profit, and being able to pre-sell the concept and star of a cheap studio comedy makes it a rather attractive prospect for a studio in need of hits. Enter MGM.
In case you haven’t noticed, the once grand banner doesn’t have the most robust production slate, and besides the Herzog-helmed Rescue Dawn, their upcoming slate consists of the Kevin Costner-is-bad, Dane-Cook-is-worse flick Mr. Brooks and the horrific-looking Isla Fisher/Jason Biggs comedy Wedding Daze. Not exactly licenses to print money. Or good reviews. Big Stan will likely fulfill the former function as it was independently-financed and had pre-sold foreign and video rights before coming to Cannes. HBO had the video rights, but is now negotiating to sell them back to Crystal Sky, the production company behind the film. If I had to guess, I’d say Big Stan should be rolling out right around Christmas week. There are zero wide-release comedies (unless you count unintentional ones like Aliens vs. Predator 2) out then, and families are notoriously non-discriminating with the theater dough after gorging themselves on holiday chow. So while a lot of the country will be desperately waiting for prestige pics to slowly roll out to their neck of the woods, this will be on 2000+ screens for the uncaring masses. Excuse me while I do a backflip.