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Lionsgate to distribute 'Dark Blood,' River Phoenix's final film

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Dark Blood 04

Twenty-one years ago, River Phoenix died at the age of 23 — leaving his last movie project, a desert-set drama called Dark Blood, in a state of limbo. In 2011, director George Sluzier revived the project by editing the footage he had shot and using a voiceover to fill in the movie’s narrative gaps. The finished product premiered in the Netherlands in 2012, had its North American premiere last January, drew a standing ovation at the Berlin Film Festival the following month — and now Cinemavault has announced that Lionsgate has bought Dark Blood‘s American distribution rights.

“The story behind the making of a film can be as intriguing as the film itself,” the company said in a release. “An actor with undeniable talent has his life cut short before he could fully realize his potential. This is a time capsule. A piece of history.”

Dark Blood follows Boy (Phoenix), an emotionally devastated widower who meets a couple (Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce) when their car breaks down near his desert home. Boy rescues the pair — then holds them hostage “because of his desire for the woman and his ambition to create a better world with her,” according to its official description.

Lionsgate plans to release Dark Blood via VOD.