Even with Bacall in the cast, Wide BlueYonder sold only 1,042 tickets
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
21/06/2012 - After three weeks, UK director Robert Young’s Wide Blue Yonder, starring Brian Fox, James Fox and Lauren Bacall, has disappeared from all Norwegian premiere cinemas but one, after reaching 1,042 admissions for Norwegian distributor, Europafilm. The black comedy is still on show at the Edda Cinema Centre in Haugesund – home of the Norwegian International Film Festival – where it was shot five years ago.
Problems with Wide Blue Failure (thus named by local press) began during principal photography, when UK producer John Cairns’ Parkland Films and Norwegian producer Bjørg Veland’s Euromax were unable to pay their bills, including salary for cast and crew. They had raised only €2.4 million of the production’s €6.4 million budget.
Norwegian producer Bjarne Hareide was brought in to restructure the financing, but when filming wrapped €1.6 million local costs were still uncovered. New investments were needed to finish the feature, which was launched at a star-studded festival event in Haugesund 2010. It took another two years to clarify the rights, further complicated by the UK producer’s bankruptcy.
Originally written for the theatre by UK playwright Hugh Janes and staged in London’s West End with Eric Sykes as the lead, Janes’ own adaption for the screen is the story of two retired sailors, old workmates, now living at an old folks’ home in Norway. One day, Wally finds Skipper dead, and he wants to bury him at sea, the old-fashioned way, as he promised him. But the administrator of the retirement community has other plans.