Comic-Con 2011 saw – amongst other things – the premiere of one particular film trailer which set geek hearts everywhere racing. With its simple but brilliant premise of a group of live-action role-players accidentally summoning a real demon, and the comedic horror which looked set to ensue, the three-minute teaser for Knight of Badassdom generated a feverishly enthusiastic response from the San Diego audience. The fact that the film also boasted an quality cast of genre stalwarts didn’t hurt either. Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) and Danny Pudi (Community) make up one of the most geek-friendly casts ever assembled, and their appearance as hapless LARPers battling real-life hellspawn further enhanced fans’ expectations of the film. As can be seen from the trailer, everyone looks like they’re having a ball (especially Dinklage):
But over a year after that Comic-Con panel, Knights of Badassdom is nowhere to be seen. It hasn’t been given a cinematic release, nor has it appeared in the direct-to-DVD market. The status of the film (according to IMDB) – unchanged for the last twelve months – is “post-production”, and the film’s Facebook page is full of unanswered posts from increasingly angry fans demanding a release date. The film’s official website features only the trailer and a clutch of media quotes, with a caption below the video simply stating: “Coming 2012”. With less than twelve weeks to go in 2012, it doesn’t look like the film will be getting either a cinematic or DVD release this side of the new year, so just what on earth has happened to it?
Could it be that the studio’s funding has collapsed, or that negative test screening feedback has led to reshoots or – worse still – the film being shelved by its producers? Let’s not forget that just a few months ago, Paramount Pictures took the surprising decision to delay the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation by almost a year, little more than a month before the movie’s originally scheduled release date, ostensibly to give more post-production time to the 3D conversion process. Could something similar (though on a much smaller scale) have happened to Knights of Badassdom? It would make little sense if the delay was a deliberate tactic on the part of the film-makers rather than a technical hitch; with the actors involved already having cemented their places as genre fan-favourites, and Peter Dinklage’s star in particular already well in ascendancy thanks to HBO’s mega-popular Game of Thrones, it’s difficult to see what they could be waiting for. What’s more, David Wain’s Role Models has already shown that a comedy film (partly) about live-action role-players can be commercially successful, and the overwhelmingly positive media and fan reaction to Knights of Badassdom‘s Comic-Con trailer suggests that it could well follow suit. So again; why the delay?
Answers are not easy to find, but a recent report by Dread Central seems to shine some light on the issue. Queries put to the film’s director and producers about the current status of the film were met with professions of ignorance, and a suggestion to direct enquiries to IndieVest Pictures, the studio which financed the film. Eventually, the intrepid writer managed to get someone on the phone who claimed to be the CEO of IndieVest, Wade Bradley. Bradley claims that the film has been in post-production for the last year, but that it is nearly ready to be released and that his new venture, dubbed ‘Media Society’, will be officially releasing the film in “the first half of 2013”. All well and good, but it’s hardly an official press release, and if you read the article it seems as though Bradley is being a little bit fuzzy with the details. What’s more, there’s a suggestion of financial difficulties at the studio, with (admittedly unconfirmed) rumours abounding that Media Society’s creation is just an elaborate way to avoid financial obligations to Knights of Badassdom‘s original backers, and the sheer length of time the film has been in post-production suggesting that IndieVest may have run out of money at some point during the process.
So where does this leave Knights of Badassdom? The official word seems to be that the film is set for a (limited) cinematic release in early 2013, but we may have to take this with a pinch of salt as the details remain somewhat murky. What is certain is that, thanks in part to the almost mythic character the film has now acquired, it already has a sizeable fanbase waiting for the day of release….but they won’t wait forever. Further delays to the movie could jeopardise its potential success, and squander the grass-roots fan support which began to grow after the debut of that trailer at Comic-Con 2011. In other words, it’s in everyone’s best interests for Knights of Badassdom to be released soon. I for one am looking forward to what looks like a hugely enjoyable movie, and hoping that it doesn’t end up permanently mired in development hell.
Jim “Having a LARP” Taylor, chief literary correspondent, geekzine UK