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Kubrick Is Keeping Mouth Shut on 'Eyes'

April 21, 1996|David Gritten | David Gritten, based in England, is a frequent contributor to Calendar

LONDON — You'll never hear Stanley Kubrick complaining about studios interfering with his cinematic vision. Even if Kubrick made public pronouncements (which he doesn't), he could never deny his films are his and his alone.

The reclusive director of such classics as "Dr. Strangelove," "A Clockwork Orange" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," Kubrick, 67, has a unique deal with a major studio that guarantees absolutely no interference in any facet of his filmmaking.

This makes him an anomaly in an era when budgetary considerations and the perceived greater importance of marketing and advertising movies have encouraged studios to adopt a more hands-on approach to the work of even the most distinguished directors.

In stark contrast, Kubrick, who has a long-standing deal with Warner Bros. and has lived in Britain for more than 30 years since he shot "Lolita" here, informs the studio of his movements and activity on a strictly need-to-know basis.

Julian Senior, a London-based Warners executive, is Kubrick's primary point of contact with the studio. But even he is sketchy about the details of Kubrick's new project, his first film since "Full Metal Jacket" nine years ago.

'It's a modern-day story and it's called 'Eyes Wide Shut'--we know that much," Senior says. "Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman will star. They met with Stanley, they loved the script and they're slavering at the thought of working with him.

"We expect it will start shooting around September or early fall. And that's really about all we know about it at the moment."

(Another source told The Times that "Eyes Wide Shut" is based on a script by British screenwriter Frederic Raphael, who won an Oscar for "Darling" in 1965.)

Kubrick's hermit-like ways are legendary. He is very rarely seen in public in Britain--to the extent that Vanity Fair magazine recently ran a story about a man who has successfully passed himself off as Kubrick to a variety of journalists in London, even though he does not even resemble the director.

Kubrick lives in a large house with extensive grounds near St. Albans, about 20 miles north of London, where he has an array of filming equipment on hand. "At home he's like a medieval silversmith," Senior said. "He lives upstairs and does computer editing in his own editing suite downstairs."

How does Kubrick come to have such a unique deal with Warners?

"Because movies aren't made by committees or by corporate heads of finance, they're made by filmmakers. So Stanley does it his way," Senior says.

"He'll do his thing," he continues in deadpan vein, "and when the film's ready--when it's shot, edited, the music's put on and there's about a week to go before release--then we'll probably get to see it."

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