Some battles are worth fighting for. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon certainly believes so; especially when it comes to his film The Current War which almost didn’t release in theaters.
Gomez-Rejon guested on Popcorn Talk Network to discuss how he salvaged his movie, a historical drama focusing on the real-life race to electrically light up America. Initially, The Current War received such a bad response at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2017 it forced producers to pull the film. Harvey Weinstein’s attachment to the project at the time—one of Weinstein’s final projects—also didn’t help matters. Gomez-Rejon relayed that despite being told he should forget about the movie and move on, he simply couldn’t get it out of his head.
“I’d write notes every day, or you know, whenever it was, as often as it were, of moments that I think we needed to address,” Gomez-Rejon admitted. “Or, or, or a new structure or, that was closer to the original director’s cut that we lost our way, and ‘why did I lose that exactly?’”
Of the current version of the film, Gomez-Rejon explained once he had a new vision for the direction, he essentially weaseled his way into a lunch with David Glasser (CEO of 101 Studios) by pretending he was in Glasser’s neighborhood and that he wanted lunch. Gomez-Rejon didn’t want lunch and wasn’t in the neighborhood.
“[At the lunch] I said, ‘why don’t we try this, this, this and that, and we worked all night on this cut, and I was like that’s it,” Gomez-Rejon recalled saying to Glasser. “We have to lose this, we had to lose this, and it all just kind of came together and, and after lunch as we, as, as he was paying the bill, even though I was supposed to take him out to lunch, I said, ‘by the time you get home, by the time you get back to your office they’ll be a new version of the movie posted on your, in your inbox.’”
This method eventually led to what became the Director’s Cut, the rendition of the film released as a new movie in 2019. In total, Gomez-Rejon added five scenes and cut ten minutes from the film’s original runtime.
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Current War
Though releasing the film has been a battle, the struggle Gomez-Rejon faced fits the tone of the movie itself. The Current War, after all, is a film that chronicles the “war” between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse as they race each other to connect electricity throughout the country. In the edition released in theaters, we see the trials Edison undergoes, both with Edison Electric and in his family life, and we watch him develop from a man who wants complete control to a person who learns to embrace the change of the future. The cut of the film depicts this fluidly, especially with Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Edison.
Perhaps the greatest lesson here is that some things are worth the wait.
Catch The Current War in theaters now—a journey through one of America’s most electrifying moments in time.