If you’ve seen ads for a movie called The Current War, with its all-star cast sporting brooding expressions (and muttonchops), and thought: “Why haven’t I heard of this?” You’re not alone.
The Marvel stars aren’t the only big names in the movie. The cast also includes Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult and Katherine Waterston.
The Current War follows the race between Thomas Edison (Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Shannon) to determine whose electrical system would power the modern world.
You’ll also be forgiven for Googling the movie and finding it premiered waaay back in 2017 at the Toronto Film Festival, only adding to the confusion surrounding the historical drama.
So where has it been all this time?
The answer: The Current War was one of many ill-fated movies to be swallowed up by the controversy surrounding Harvey Weinstein.
As Weinstein was brought down by the wealth of sexual-misconduct allegations against him (which he has denied), The Weinstein Company went bankrupt and The Current War was put on a shelf. And there it stayed for two whole years.
This shelving may have been a blessing in disguise for the movie, which was positioned as an Awards-season baby. Reviews out of TFF were weak, and even The Current War‘s director, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, was face-palming over the final cut.
Gomez-Rejon told Deadline: “I knew in my heart, and every fibre of my body was saying, it’s not ready.”
Before Weinstein’s personal reputation went south, he was known for having a heavy hand in the editing process of movies under his company.
Gomez-Rejon added: “People warned me to be careful and I was determined to not be another casualty until I saw the [Toronto] cut and felt like an idiot. I went in fearless, and then suddenly you realise you are a casualty, a footnote.”
To the rescue came newcomer 101 Studios, which bought the rights to The Current War for $3 million in January 2019.
If you’re in America, you could be forgiven for a sense of déjà vu. The studio scheduled its USA release for prime Awards-season just as it had two years ago.
Still, you might be left scratching your head. After all, TWC’s implosion and Weinstein’s downfall were heavily publicised, so how did The Current War – with a cast worth salivating over – slip past the eagle eye of the internet?
The poor reviews out of TFF might be to blame, but now Gomez-Rejon has been given a second chance to address whatever ills befell his movie on the cutting-room floor.
The director reportedly added five scenes to the film while simultaneously cutting ten minutes from its runtime. (To find out how, and if, this works we’ll have to wait and see.)
Though Weinstein’s heavy hand is no longer involved, another big, relatively uncontroversial, name is: Martin Scorsese. The Current War required the sign-off from Scorsese, Gomez-Rejon’s mentor, before heading to cinemas.
Hopefully, this gives the movie the jolt it needs (pun intended, sorry not sorry) to get over its initially poor reviews.
The Current War is out in UK cinemas on July 29, 2019.