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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » 'Offending Angels' - the 'worst performing film in the history of cinema?'

   
Author Topic: 'Offending Angels' - the 'worst performing film in the history of cinema?'
Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7035
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 02-08-2006 01:48 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: here
Anatomy of a flop
By John Arlidge, [London] Evening Standard
31 January 2006

Jack Davenport, Miles from This Life, and Teachers star Andrew Lincoln chatted to East-Enders' Dean Gaffney. Stanley Fink, one of Britain's wealthiest City financiers, clinked champagne flutes with Irish comedian Sean Hughes.

It looked like a normal West End film premiere. But the stars of Offending Angels who had gathered at the Curzon on Shaftesbury Avenue were making cinematic history. The only problem was, they were going down in the record books in a way none would have wanted.

Offending Angels, it emerged yesterday, is the worst-performing film in the history of cinema. The movie, which rather optimistically is being released on DVD next week with a marketing campaign which urges film-lovers to "own a piece of cinematic history", cost almost £200,000 to make but took just £89. After VAT and the cinema's cut, the final figure was £17. That's a minus 99.99999 per cent return on investment.

How did it happen? How did an unknown director persuade topname actors and one of the shrewdest men in the City to make a film which was so bad that one reviewer said: "It is impossible to convey the woefulness of (this) British comedy in which everything has been aimed low: budget, ambition, intelligence. It is rot."

The story of Offending Angels - which would probably be a blockbuster along the lines of The Producers if an enterprising director could persuade the main characters to play themselves - began in 1999 with Andrew Rajan, who was then a frustrated actor. Fed up with playing drug dealers in dramas, such as ITV's The Bill, he decided to write a movie which he would direct, produce and act in himself.

His script told the story of Sam (Andrew Lincoln) and Baggy (Rajan) who share a house, go to the pub and watch porn. Sam secretly wants to be a singer. Baggy has never been able to trust a girl since his fiancée jilted him. Enter Sam and Baggy's guardian angels, Zeke (Shaun Parkes: Human Traffic, The Mummy II) and Paris (Susannah Harker: Intimacy, Surviving Picasso). They try to steer the pair towards a better life and, this being a romantic comedy, they all end up falling in love.

The story, by Rajan's own admission, wasn't much. But the young director was charming, enterprising - and desperate to make his name. When he found out that an actor friend, Paula O'Grady, worked in the kitchen at Fink's Man Group in the City, he persuaded her to fix a meeting with him. Rajan sweet-talked Fink, who is worth £85 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, into investing £40,000 in the film, provided he could match the funding.

An Indian hotelier agreed to stump up the remaining cash. Against the advice of their agents, Rajan persuaded Davenport and Lincoln to appear for as little as £75. What could possibly go wrong for Rajan and his aptly-named new film company, Pants Productions? As it turned out, everything.

Rajan was so inexperienced that filming was a disaster. He managed to shoot Davenport at such strange angles that only the back of his head was visible in any of the shots. Davenport's name had to be taken off the publicity for the film.

Just days before filming in south London was due to end, Rajan received a one-line fax from the hotelier apologising but saying that he could not come up with the £40,000, after all. Rajan was broke. Worse, he turned down an acting job on The Bill and was fired by his agent.

Jobless and penniless, he spent the next year borrowing money and begging editing suites in Soho until a rough cut was available. The Film Council turned down his request for funds but he somehow managed to persuade Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre and the man behind the Oscar-nominated Madness of King George, to stump up some cash. In the chaos, production houses, laboratories and sound engineers lost the print of the film and the sound mix twice.

Rajan used the lure of a charity bash to persuade the owners of the Curzon in Shaftesbury Avenue to host the premiere. He was hoping to get good enough reviews to attract a sales agent, enabling him to sell the film across Britain and overseas.

The Mail on Sunday said the film was "so unutterably slow that you can even imagine God cursing and reaching for the fast-forward button". The Sunday Times declared: "There is nothing to be said in its favour." To The Independent, it was "a Chinese water-torture of a movie". The Guardian said: "The direction's out to lunch and the script's four drafts away from anything usable."

Undaunted, Rajan persuaded a handful of cinemas to show the film. The only problem was that the week they chose to release it just happened to be the week when the hype surrounding Warner Brothers' first £50 million Harry Potter was at its height. Over one week, fewer than 20 people around the country paid their £5 to see Offending Angels. Half a million more people went to see JK Rowling's story on the big screen, netting Warners more than £500 million.

In one cinema in Croydon the only people who saw the film were the projectionist and the usher. In seven days and 14 screenings, not a single customer turned up. The film's distributor, Guerilla Films, run by David Nicholas Wilkinson, lost £40,000.

But Rajan refused to be downhearted. There were always the DVD rights to look out for. So, he teamed up with Prince Edward's then film company, Ardent, to try to sell the film around the world. Six months later the Prince closed Ardent.

Again, Rajan refused to accept defeat. A media firm called Eagle Rock bought the print and the rights to the film and promised to release it on DVD overseas, but eight months later Eagle Rock axed its film arm. To make matters worse, when Rajan asked for the print and the publicity material to be returned, Eagle Rock said they had lost the lot. Luckily, Rajan had kept a print of his own.

Next week, in perhaps the first piece of good news since Rajan quit The Bill and decided to make his name in movies, the film will, finally, come out on DVD.

Davenport and Lincoln won't talk about the film. "Their agents don't want anyone reminding people that they were in the worst-performing film ever," one industry source told the Standard. Sources close to Man Group said Stanley Fink was away on business in Hong Kong and was turning down all requests to talk about the DVD.

But last night Rajan, 39, who recently enrolled at the National Film and TV School in Beaconsfield, spoke to the Standard. In what must rank as the understatement of the decade, he conceded that during the making of the film he "was on the back foot a bit". But he added: "Now that the film is finally out on DVD it might become a cult classic. It might not be the best film ever made but there's a good strong following in Germany and Sweden. Who knows, I might even double my takings."

• Offending Angels (Guerilla Films) is out on 6 February, with a free copy of the cinema trailer.

'In one cinema in Croydon the only people who saw the film were the projectionist and the usher.' - Stephen?

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Dominic Espinosa
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1172
From: Boulder Creek, CA.
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 02-08-2006 02:32 PM      Profile for Dominic Espinosa   Email Dominic Espinosa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wonder how much I could pick up a print for. Sounds like a good flick to me!

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10701
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 02-08-2006 03:10 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It will be too bad if no one videotaped any documentary of this movie's production. Sounds like such a thing would be more interesting than the movie itself -sort of a cautionary film school "don't do this" kind of thing.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5198
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 02-16-2006 05:00 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's gotta be the saddest story I've heard in a long while. But ya gotta give the poor guy credit for his attitude. Dr. Phil should have him on his show.

Guess he didn't need to put CAP codes on his print, eh? [Roll Eyes]

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