Donnie Darko producer Adam Fields shares behind-the-scenes stories from the set of Richard Kelly's debut film. Every year, new generations of young people discover 2001's Donnie Darko, a journey of angst, responsibility, and self-discovery, as told through the esoteric misadventures of Jake Gyllenhaal and the mysterious Frank the Rabbit. Written and directed by Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko was not a box office success in its original release. Worldwide, the film only managed to rake in $2.9 million, a far cry from its $4.5 million budget. Nevertheless, the film quickly found an audience on home video and became a huge hit in the early days of Netflix, leading to the Donnie Darko Director's Cut in 2004. Subsequent years brought multiple home video releases, culminating in a new 4K Blu-ray edition, with image quality restored from the original camera negatives.
If the writer/director is seen as in charge of any given movie, the producer is "the man behind the man," so to speak. In the case of Donnie Darko, Adam Fields filled that role. Prior to Donnie Darko, Fields had produced films like 1985's Vision Quest and 1989's Great Balls of Fire, as well as cult 90s films Ravenous and Brokedown Palace. In terms of cinematic collaboration, Adam Fields saw the same teenage relatability in Kelly as he did in John Hughes; Fields championed Hughes as a first-time director on Sixteen Candles and its follow-up, The Breakfast Club, and he similarly believed in Richard Kelly's ability to write and direct a movie featuring authentic representations of teenage experiences. Thus, he took a chance on the young auteur, who only had film school shorts to his name, and entrusted him with the freedom to make a movie out of a script Fields himself admits he didn't fully understand. It was a leap of faith, and one that paid off in the long run... At least in terms of critical acclaim. Financially, Donnie Darko has never officially turned a profit, and is said to have lost more than it cost. This creative accounting is "The real Hollywood magic," as Fields describes it.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Donnie Darko, Arrow Films is releasing a 4K Blu-ray edition of the film. The set includes both the theatrical and director's cut, both presented in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR. This new release features a 100-page book, a double-sided poster, three audio commentary tracks across the two versions of the film, and hours of additional special features that dive into the stories behind the making of the film and its provocative themes. Screen Rant had the opportunity to talk at length with Adam Fields about his work on Donnie Darko, both in getting the project off the ground, and then trying to sell the completed film at Sundance and beyond. Donnie Darko's road to cult status was not a straight shot, and Fields' insight offers a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes job of a producer in making sure a movie gets made, and – just as importantly – gets seen. Fields also discusses the aftermath of Darko's cult status, his non-role in S. Darko, and the potential future of the franchise via a potential television series.
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