Trying to keep it together

Soderbergh resists splitting 'Che' into 2 parts

Steven Soderbergh said Thursday that he was willing to split his epic four-hour, two-part "Che" into two separate movies upon release — with one caveat.

"What I'd like to do is that if it opens in a town, you can see it for a week as one movie, and then you split it up," the filmmaker said. "To me that would be an event."

Distributors have said privately that they'd prefer the option to break it up, as has been the case with double bills like "Grindhouse," which the Weinstein Co. split up overseas. Soderbergh previously was thought to be steadfast about the two parts screening together, as they did in Cannes (with an intermission).

Soderbergh did not say whether he'd be willing to cut the project to a single two- or 21/2-hour film.

The Benicio Del Toro-toplined film is an examination of two revolutions that Ernesto "Che" Guevara undertook; the first explores the successful uprising he led in Cuba, and the second looks at his failed revolt in Bolivia.

The Wild Bunch production has yet to sell to a U.S. distributor. Buyers gave it a tepid reaction after the marathon Palais screening Wednesday night, in part because of its length.

At the news conference, Soderbergh explained the length as a matter of historical necessity. "If you're going to have context, it's going to have size," he said.

He also took a defiant posture when asked his response to those who said he should have taken a more conventional biopic structure.

"I find it hilarious that people say that movies are too conventional," Soderbergh said, "and then when (something comes out) that isn't conventional, they seem annoyed." (partialdiff)