Warner Bros.: Ryan Gosling down with limited release for directing debut

Warner Bros. says the distribution plan for Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' was a decision for the filmmakers

After Ryan Gosling's directorial debut "Lost River" landed with a thud at the Cannes Film Festival, fans began wondering when they'd get the chance to judge the film for themselves.

We now have that answer — but it may not be one that pleases the actor's devotees.

Warner Bros., which acquired rights to "Lost River" in 2013, said Tuesday that it planned to release the movie through its home video arm, though it will also get an exclusive theatrical run in Los Angeles and New York. While producer Marc Platt said in an interview this week that the movie would roll out in April, Warner Bros. says it has yet to date the film.

Dan Fellman, the studio's president of domestic distribution, acknowledged Tuesday that the release pattern was unusual for Warner Bros., which rarely puts its movies on-demand and in theaters on the same day. But Gosling was apparently on board with the plan.

"I think it's a specialized film. It's really something that needed special handling — which the filmmakers were well aware of," Fellman said in an interview with The Times. "It was their decision, really, on how to proceed with the release of the movie. It was not a surprise to anybody."

Gosling's representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Though "Lost River" was a part of Cannes' prestigious Un Certain Regard section in May, critics did not take kindly to it. Written by Gosling and starring Christina Hendricks as a struggling mother whose teenage son is being bullied, the movie proved puzzling to early viewers. The Telegraph said the "mouth-dryingly lousy" film seemed like a poor imitation of a David Lynch movie, while the Guardian implied that the 34-year-old only got the movie made because he's famous.

Fellman denied that the movie was ever slated to play nationwide and said the picture's release plan was not indicative of poor quality.

"I think Ryan did a really good job with the film," Fellman said, before going on to clarify that the studio did not produce the movie or put much money into it.

It makes sense, of course, that Warner Bros. would want to stay in Gosling's good graces. As an actor, he's done good business for the studio — mostly in "Crazy, Stupid, Love," less so in "Gangster Squad." Plus, he's currently at work filming the 1970s neo-noir "The Nice Guys" for it with Russell Crowe.

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