EXCLUSIVE: After its controversial showings at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Werner Herzog’s dark and gripping death penalty documentary Into The Abyss, originally scheduled to be released sometime in 2012, has just been moved into the crowded November holiday corridor and will now open November 11th in New York, Los Angeles and possibly a couple of other major cities. The decision was literally forced on distributor Sundance Selects by its filmmaker, who became “obsessed” with the subject matter and demanded they release it now — particularly as the issue has turned into a hot potato due to a recent Republican presidential debate and the execution of Troy Davis. The difficulty for the distrib was Herzog’s other current doc, the 3D Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, has been a big hit and continues in theaters, and it’s likely some of those dates will now have to be pulled to make way for Abyss.
Erik Nelson, the producer on both films, explains that there was a confluence of events. “Cave is still in theaters and we had no idea it would do as well as it has done,” he said. “You’re not really supposed to put two films out at the same time by the same director (tell that to Steven Spielberg). On the other hand, what Werner wants, Werner gets. Resistance is futile. Added Nelson: “It seems now for whatever reason. everyone in the country is focused on the death penalty debate again thanks to Rick Perry and the bloodthirsty yahoos at the Republican debate, and I think Werner wants the film to be part of that discussion because timing is everything.”