Like its title character, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was popular, cool, and seemed to have everything going for it. Back in 2006, the slasher pic, starring a then-unknown Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) and directed by first-timer Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), was an audience hit at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Weinstein Company won a heated bidding war for the indie, paying $3.5 million to distribute it. ”I remember getting in the elevator with my girlfriend and just breaking into tears,” Levine says. ”That was the best night of my life.”
But as any horror fan knows, it’s always brightest right before the bloodshed. In the movie, Mandy Lane winds up in the middle of a rural massacre — a scene only slightly more brutal than the movie’s disastrous post-festival test screening. (”That was the worst night of my life,” Levine says.) When the audience didn’t connect with the movie’s self-aware tone, Weinstein decided a limited-platform release would work better. ”The movie is a really intelligent genre film,” Harvey Weinstein says. ”You put it in a couple thousand theaters, and guys are going to expect Halloween.”
Levine and producer Keith Calder disagreed, and the movie landed in the hands of Senator Entertainment, a newly formed U.S. branch of a German film company, which promised a wide release. But Senator released only one film (the 2008 flop The Informers) before shuttering and leaving Mandy Lane in limbo. ”I gave up two or three years ago. Totally,” Levine says. ”I was resigned to people never seeing the movie.”
But Calder never gave up. After years of trying to untangle the legal rights for the movie, in 2011 he entered into talks with Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, the presidents of RADiUS, Weinstein’s boutique label dedicated to both multi-platform VOD and theatrical distribution. Mandy Lane seemed like a natural fit for their business model of tailoring release strategies to the strengths of the films being released. Mandy Lane will be released on demand with a limited theatrical debut. (The film will finally become available through VOD Sept. 6 and in theaters Oct. 11.) ”I fell in love with this movie in 2006 like everybody else did,” says Quinn, who was at indie studio Magnolia back then before starting RADiUS. ”When we launched [RADiUS], literally days after signing the contract, we were in Toronto at lunch with Bob [Weinstein] and Harvey Weinstein, and we said, ‘We want to do Mandy Lane. What do you think?’ And they said, ‘That’s a great idea. Go get it.”’
In a stroke of good luck, Mandy Lane doesn’t have any real telltale signs of being made seven years ago. ”The fortuitous decision that [Levine] made when we were making the movie was to try to make it feel somewhat retro at the time — which makes it kind of timeless,” Calder says. Of course, the movie also now has the benefit of a director and leading lady whose stars have risen significantly since it was shot. But the team behind the film insists that Heard’s new relationship with Johnny Depp has nothing to do with the movie’s resurrection. ”I just feel very lucky that we’re able to show it,” Levine says. ”I know many movies haven’t had the happy ending we’re going to get.” And if you’re wondering whether Mandy Lane herself has a happy ending too…we’ll leave that to the movie.