This story first appeared in the Sept. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.“>
Magnolia Pictures has picked up U.S. rights to the long-gestating Jennifer Lawrence–Bradley Cooper period drama, though with none of the fanfare expected from a film featuring Oscar-caliber names, including director Susanne Bier (2011 foreign-language winner In a Better World).
Sources say Magnolia, whose sister company 2929 Productions financed the film, became the default distributor when no other company would take the bait. In fact, since December, CAA — which reps the movie, Bier, Lawrence and Cooper — has held three private screenings featuring three different cuts of the Depression-era film. Says one top buyer, “The film was so edited, it made no sense.” Another called the performances “uneven, particularly Lawrence’s [descent into madness]” as the childless wife of a timber baron.
A Magnolia source concedes that Serena, which was shot 2½ years ago (nearly a year before Silver Linings Playbook came out), will not receive an Oscar-qualifying run this year — even though the film is finished — and instead will be released in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015. Magnolia now is homing in on a date.
In the meantime, fans clamoring for Lawrence and Cooper’s third pairing (they also starred in last year’s American Hustle) can catch Serena in the U.K., where it will make its world premiere Oct. 13 at the London Film Festival, followed by an international rollout.