Peter Bogdonovich To Complete Unfinished Orson Wells Film For Netflix



After decades of false starts, "The Other Side Of The Wind," Orson Wells's final film, will be finished by director Peter Bogdonovich and released worldwide by Netflix.

Footage for the film was shot from 1970 to 1976 and Wells struggled to complete the film until he died in 1985. The film stars John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Edmund O'Brien, Lili Palmer, Dennis Hopper and Susan Strasberg and is a satire of the avant-garde wave of 1970s "New Hollywood" directors. The film-within-a-film format and footage shot in both color and black-and-white made it difficult to edit and the project was bedeviled by a number of infamous production problems. 

Wells saw the film as his Hollywood comeback film and it appears to be more than a bit autobiographical. Huston plays Jake Hannaford, who celebrates his 70th birthday as he is attempting his Hollywood comeback. The film cuts between the party and footage from his comeback project, the film-within-a-film "The Other Side Of The Wind."

In the decades since Wells's death, a series of directors and producers have attempted to finish what is arguably the most famous film never completed. The task has been complicated by the way the film was financed, which left multiple parties having it sign off on any effort to complete the film. The unfinished footage has also been the target of multiple lawsuits from participants and was caught up in a series of lawsuits filed by Wells's daughter over the way her father's legacy was being portrayed.

In 2014, a producing team that included Frank Marshall, Filip Jan Rymsza and Peter Bogdanovich secured the rights to 1,083 reels of footage stored in a warehouse outside Paris. But their effort were stymied by finances and an effort to raise money on Indiegogo raised only $406,605 of the $2 million the trio estimated they'd need to finish the project.

In 2016, word surfaced that Netflix was negotiating a $5 million deal which would pay for the film's completion as well as a companion documentary. At that time, it was reported that the main sticking point was that producer Oja Kodar had to sign off on the deal. Kodar apparently was the person who halted a 1999 effort by Bogdanovich to complete the film for Showtime.

Netflix's shepherding of the film seems to ensure it will finally be completed more than three decades after Wells' death.

"This is a labor of love and a gift to the legacy of one of history’s greatest directors," Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in a statement announcing the deal.