The Orchard has dropped plans to release Louis C.K.’s movie I Love You, Daddy, the indie distributor announced Friday.
The company said it “will not be moving forward with the release” of the movie, which was set to open in select theaters on Nov. 17. The Orchard still holds rights to the film, but the situation is fluid, insiders say.
The news comes just a day after a New York Times exposé was published, in which five women claimed Louis C.K. sexually harassed them, with many detailing how he allegedly masturbated in front of them.
I Love You, Daddy, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival after C.K. made the film in secret, financing it entirely by himself and filming it over 20 days this summer in New York, was set to have its New York premiere on Thursday night but that too was scrapped, hours before the Times story broke.
Initially reps for the premiere cited “unexpected circumstances,” but a source told The Hollywood Reporter that it was due to a potentially damaging New York Times story. After the Times story broke on Thursday afternoon, The Orchard released a statement saying the premiere was canceled over the allegations.
“There is never a place for the behavior detailed in these allegations,” the company added. “As a result, we are giving careful consideration to the timing and release of the film and continuing to review the situation.”
The black-and-white film, which C.K. directed and co-wrote with Vernon Chatman, had already garnered controversy for a storyline involving a 17-year-old (Chloe Grace Moretz) falling for a lecherous 68-year-old filmmaker (John Malkovich). The film features controversial dialogue, including the use of the N-word by C.K.’s character and multiple jokes about child rape.
But C.K., who also stars in the film as a successful TV writer-producer and father of Moretz’s character, defended the inappropriate content, telling THR, “We’re depicting oxygen-rich people who live in these beautiful apartments and offices saying whatever they want,” he said. “Folks say shit to each other. You can’t think about the audience when you’re making the thing. If you do, you’re not giving them something that came out of your gut. You’ll be making something that you’re like, ‘Is this OK for you?'”
Additionally, the film features a scene in which C.K.’s character’s friend (Charlie Day) mimes masturbation while an actress (Rose Byrne) is on speakerphone.
The cast also includes Edie Falco, Pamela Adlon, Ebonee Noel and Helen Hunt. I Love You, Daddy was filmed on 35 mm film and features an orchestral score, recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London.
The Orchard acquired worldwide rights to the film for $5 million out of Toronto. The film drew keen interest from buyers after its Toronto premiere, despite its politically incorrect components.
Speaking to THR in Toronto, C.K. said he could self-release the movie, like he did with his acclaimed series Horace and Pete, but he said that he wanted the movie to play on the big screen.
“This is a movie I want to see projected,” C.K. said at the time. “I want someone who can put this in theaters. That’s a big goal for me.”
“Down the road, of course I want people to see it in their homes,” he added. “Maybe that would be [on] my website, but I want it in theaters first.”
The comedian-filmmaker could face a tough challenge in finding a new home for the film in the current climate, at least theatrically. Self-distributing the movie could also prove difficult if the allegations aren’t cleared.
The news comes as HBO cut ties with C.K., dropping him from an upcoming star-studded stand-up special and removing his previous stand-up specials and series from its on-demand services.
Meanwhile, FX, where C.K. has a massive overall deal, said the situation was “under review.”
FX aired C.K.’s Emmy-winning semi-autobiographical comedy Louie for five seasons. He also has a creator credit on Adlon’s Better Things and Zach Galifianakis’ Baskets.
C.K. also canceled an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show on Thursday night, with the host addressing the allegations in his monologue.
Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.