The Release of The Brothers Grimm
by Phil Stubbs
In May 2005, it was announced that The Brothers Grimm would receive
its US release on August 26 2005. At the time, the director was busy finishing
both Grimm and another film, Tideland. In July, Terry Gilliam
attended the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival in Switzerland.
"Agent Orange" was there and filed a report for the Dreams
|"Gilliam mentioned that over $30 million
was allotted for the promotion of Grimm. He also showed a promotional
clip for the film, which began much in the same way as the trailer
on the net, but then went on in more detail to introduce the Brothers,
including a cameo of Gilliam's son receiving one of their business
cards. This seemed to be a consciously chosen ruse to give us a little
taste of Grimm, with Gilliam interrupting the clip saying that
a terrible mistake had been made and that he was not supposed to show
anything relating to Grimm at the conference.
"Overall, he also seemed to have some kind of a gag order - or
maybe just a personal thing - to not talk to much about Grimm.
Even his reference to the marketing funds for the film was somewhat
ironic in response to a question regarding the astronomical cost of
Hollywood films these days, as he asked the audience how many films
could be made with the marketing budget of Grimm alone.
"He also took the opportunity to take a stab at the Weinsteins,
referring to them as "the Brothers Grimmer", but mentioned
that the opportunity to finish his version some time after the wrap
and his disagreements with the Brothers was a nice luxury and would
be the ideal way to make better films, having the distance from the
material over time to improve it. He says it's a better film for it.
He also said Grimm's success will have a bearing on the realization
of his future projects. So fingers crossed that Grimm is a
Grimm Brothers Heath Ledger and Matt Damon
with Cavaldi (Peter Stomare)
In an interview with Dreams at the end
of July, Gilliam confirmed that Grimm was now finished. And it appeared
that Gilliam and the Weinsteins had put aside any differences with respect
to the film and were now working together to market the film. Gilliam said
to this website,
|"The important thing is that the Weinsteins
really like the film now. A year ago we reached the point where there
was great disagreement about what the film was. And rather than doing
what you normally do: i.e. have a head butt contest, and the biggest
ego wins, and the film suffers, I went away I went away and did Tideland
to let the air clear, go back to our quarters. And come six months
later, they asked me to finish the film, so I've done it. And it's
"Harvey said when he saw it that he was laughing and he said
he loved it. He didn't realise how funny it was, until they'd put
the music and all the effects on and when they cleaned up the dialogue.
So it's a happy ending there. The screenings we've been having with
the press, we've been getting really good reactions."
Other interviews and articles about Grimm
In August, Gilliam went over to the US for the marketing of Grimm,
which involved countless interviews. As the release date of Grimm
approached, many magazines and websites ran Grimm articles and interviews
with Gilliam. Here are a selection:
Website and advertising
The official Grimm
website was launched on 29 June. This developed up to the release of
the movie in the US, into an enormous resource featuring very many stills,
examples of artwork, storyboards, costume design, an a substantial interview
The official website of The Brothers Grimm
Website Film Threat wrote an
interesting article on the US marketing of Grimm, summarising
that "the inconsistent presentation of the funny aspects of the movie
have me thinking Miramax just doesn't know what to do with it and are trying
everything. Unfortunately that doesn't create a consistent brand message
and therefore weighs down the entire campaign."
The LA premiere of The Brothers Grimm took place at the DGA theatre
in Los Angeles on August 8, 2005.
Above - Heath Ledger, Charles Roven,
Terry Gilliam and Bob Weinstein - all
celebrating the picture's release
Right - Peter Stormare at the premiere
On August 10, there was a special preview of Grimm in New York City.
Gilliam attended, and there was a Q&A with movie critic Joel Siegel.
Max Evry attended and wrote a piece that is featured
here at Dreams.
Just before the US release of Grimm, Gilliam went back to Switzerland
for the Locarno Film Festival. He received a Leopard of Honor, for "career
achievement", alongside Wim Wenders and Abbas Kiarostami.
The reviews in the US press gave Grimm a mixed response, hardly the
critical mauling that was reported in the UK. Here's a few favourable reviews:
|"A wildly wondrous reinvention of the
story of the chroniclers of dark, occasionally horrific, child-pleasing
fairy tales... The Brothers Grimm is a celebration of the power of
stories. Legends and myths, it tells us, should never be mocked or
ignored. They may turn out to be real.
Jim Fusilli, Wall Street Journal
"If only summer movies were, as a matter of course, this inventive,
this modest, this interested -- even derisively -- in cultural legacies,
this faithful to concept and setting."
The literary siblings are portrayed as clever con artists who bilk
superstitious peasants by exorcizing bogus monsters - until a real
threat challenges their courage as well as their improvisational skills.
Gilliam has rarely been more inventive, energetic, or just plain funny.
David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
But the favourable reviews were slightly outweighed by the negative ones
by a ratio of about 60:40. Roger Ebert found much to admire, but dismissed
the film overall. The New York Post sought to lay the blame with the script
and the Weinsteins, whereas Rex Reed in the New York Observer found fault
with the director.
|"Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimmis
a work of limitless invention, but it is invention without pattern,
chasing itself around the screen without finding a plot. Watching
it is a little exhausting. If the images in the movie had been put
to the service of a story we could care about, he might have had something.
But the movie seems like a style in search of a purpose."
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"This aimless epic about a pair of charlatan brothers sinks
under the weight of a problematic script, questionable star casting,
hamfisted editing -- and penny-pinching by Gilliam's latest patrons,
the Brothers Weinstein."
Lou Lumenick, NEW YORK POST
"Mr. Gilliam has no clear idea what he's doing, so the movie is
nothing more than noise, costumes and disjointed special effects that
do not make an acceptable substitute for the sense of tempo the rest
of the film sorely lacks."
Rex Reed, New York Observer
US Box Office
The Brothers Grimm opened to a respectable first weekend of $15.1m,
and gained the number two slot behind The 40 Year Old Virgin. After
the first weekend, a rather desperate press release from the studio was
put on the website:
|"IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU SHOULD BE DOING
THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND, IT IS TO GO SEE THE BROTHERS GRIMM AT YOUR
LOCAL CINEMA... THE BROTHERS GRIMM opened across the US and Canada
last Friday (26th August). It came in at number 2 in the box office
and this long Labor Day weekend is a chance to push it up to NUMBER
1 where it totally deserves to be... The movie is a PG-13 but is ADORED
BY CHILDREN OF ALL AGES and it's a great choice for parents to take
their children to, and kids to go see at the cinema... Please spread
By the third weekend, the total customer spend had risen to $33m, as displayed
in this summary from Box
Office Mojo, vs the reported production budget of $80m plus.
Venice Film Festival
The push for European cinema revenues was kicked off at the Venice Film
Festival, where Grimm held its screening on 4 September. The film
was in competition for the Golden Lion which eventually went to Ang Lee's
From Venice... Terry Gilliam (left), Monica Bellucci (above),
Matt Damon and Heath Ledger (above right) and all joined by Lena
Headey (below right)
Here are some highlights of what Gilliam said at the press conference:
|"I like the fact that my films have always
encouraged bad and good reviews. The most depressing thing would be
a review that was just mediocre. That would kill me. I have no problem
with the fact that people don't see the film or don't like it, because
there is as many people out there who love it. Everybody has their
opinion - and some people are wrong.
"I hate being dragged into genres. I like movies that are full
of a lot of conflicting and interesting things. I want to make films
that inspire people to explore their imagination. We live in a world
that is defined by numbers and calculations - and there is very little
room for myth and dreams. I think we need both of those things in
our lives, to make life worth living. Children really love my films.
They haven't lost their ability to dream, to imagine - they are open-minded.
As we get older the world seems to close in. I'm trying to break that
shell open occasionally. This is just one more desperate attempt to
"One of the things we concentrated on with Grimm was detail.
Everything is tactile, so that you actually believe the world before
you is real. Just because these days you can do so much with CGI,
it's not necessarily a good idea - sometimes it's better to keep things
small. The fairytales I remember as a child were about people, the
stories came out of characters, out of the forest that you invariably
went into. I hope that with this film we've created a world that's
closer to the fairytales that all of us have read and been affected
And Matt Damon said:
|"The fact that Terry was directing the movie
sold it to me. Heath and I were both surprised and felt pretty lucky
that there was a Terry Gilliam movie available to us. Originally Terry
wanted us to play the opposite roles, but we petitioned him to switch
roles because we wanted to do things a little differently than we
had a chance to so far in our careers. But no sales pitch was needed
for the film, a Terry Gilliam movie sells itself."
Release outside the US
In September, the official website published the following release dates
from around the world:
Septiembre 9, 2005
Septiembre 9, 2005
September 23, 2005
Syyskuu 23, 2005
Octobre 5, 2005
Oktober 6, 2005
Oktober 7, 2005
Ottobre 7, 2005
Oktober 13, 2005
Oktober 14, 2005
November 4, 2005
November 4, 2005
November 24, 2005
December 1, 2005
In September through to November, Terry Gilliam toured many countries plugging
the film singlehandedly, without the stars. Mid September, Gilliam visited
the Lund Film Festival in Sweden to attend the premiere of Grimm.
The honorary Finn the Giant Award was presented to the director in the Crypt
of the Lund Cathedral (pictured).
Gilliam was interviewed while in the crypt by the festival's
website. Asked about how he creates the look of a "Terry Gilliam
film", he said, "We do a lot of research to begin with, especially
if you work on a movie like The Brothers Grimm where you want to
recreate the historical period it took place in, in this case the beginning
of the 19th century, you look a lot at paintings. I was looking a lot at
fairy tale book illustrations, Arthur Rackham, Gustave Doré and Caspar
David Friedrich, everybody from all the worlds. You gather ideas and images
and you try to make them real and at the same time thats going on
you try to develop the characters and thats probably, well to me,
it has become more important than the look of the films. But if you have
a fairy tale world its got to look believable and its going
to look enchanted and you got lots of special effects in the movie, around
800 effect shots."
Around Europe, Grimm fared much better than in the USA, striking number
one slots in Spain, France and Germany. And at the end of October, Gilliam
headed off to Japan to promote the picture, where it eventually scored a
place at the top of the opening weekend chart.
Gilliam with actress Aya Ueto in Japan
Grimm was released in the UK on December 4. Again, Gilliam promoted the
pic solely (except for a bit of help from Jonathan Pryce) - with the director
appearing on Frank Skinner's ITV chat show, the BBC's Film 2005,
the BBC's Breakfast tv show, and he also joined BBC Radio broadcasters
Simon Mayo and Jonathon Ross on their shows. Gilliam attended the UK premiere
earlier in the week which was part of the annual London Film Festival. Dreams
attended the UK premiere... click here for more
details. The director also found time to visit the Leeds Film Festival where
he also had the honour of unveiling a new train. The film opened at number
4 in its initial weekend in the UK.
UK poster (click to enlarge)
Some further links from around the world about Grimm:
Gilliam then headed over to the Czech Republic and Hungary. He attended
the Czech premiere in Prague, and while he was there, he went to the launch
of a new retail venture. The filmmaker told Dreams, "In Prague
they have opened a shop at the Svetozor cinema, just off Wenceslaus Square,
called Terry's Socks - named after my under-footwear. It is a kind
of film haberdashery selling books, specialist DVDs, posters, good strong
socks for filmmakers, and other movie paraphernalia. I was there for the
grand opening on November 10 and it now displays one of my bright yellow
only-slightly-used socks... not for sale." Gilliam then went over to
Budapest to further plug Grimm.
Gilliam at the launch party for "Terry's
On November 19, Gilliam was back in Sweden, being presented with a "Visionary
Award" at Stockholm International Film Festival within the "Face2Face"
strand. The director told Dreams, "They weighed me down with
the heaviest award in the film business... a 7 1/2 kilo solid bronze horse.
It is called The Visionary Award. Apparently bestowed on people who don't
need spectacles to create spectacles."
Late in November 2005, the book Dreams and Nightmares, by Bob McCabe,
was published in the UK. It tells the story of the production of The
Brothers Grimm. The story told has quite a lot of conflict, and a review
of this book will appear soon at this website together with an opportunity
to win some copies.
Finally at the end of November, Grimm was launched in Australia,
where it hit the number one spot.
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