If good things truly come to those who wait, “Masterminds” should be stupendous.
Yes, two years after shooting wrapped and three postponements later, beleaguered studio Relativity Media’s beleaguered caper comedy – set in and filmed in North Carolina – finally has a release date that seems to be sticking: Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.
The latest and perhaps last trailer for the movie isn’t too much different from the one we saw 13 months ago ... although the new ad highlights the presence of “Saturday Night Live” cast members Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, who since have become breakout stars thanks to the “Ghostbusters” remake.
To recap: “Masterminds” is an inspired-by-real-events yarn starring Zach Galifianakis as bumbling vault supervisor David Ghantt, who in 1997 stole more than $17 million from the vault of Loomis, Fargo & Co. in Charlotte, then got caught after he and his co-conspirators made a series of forehead-smacking mistakes.
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It was the second-largest bank heist in American history.
One of those accomplices was Ghantt’s Loomis broke-as-a-joke co-worker Kelly Campbell (played by Kristen Wiig), who after the heist bought a minivan and told her mom she’d borrowed it from a friend; made a series of very large cash deposits at her credit union; and treated her kids to the best Christmas they’d ever had.
Another was armored car driver Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson), who moved from a rural mobile home into a $635,000 Cramer Mountain mansion in Gaston County and bought his wife a $43,000 diamond ring with the stolen riches.
The subsequent FBI investigation eventually ensnared 21 crooks, mostly from Gaston County, and as former Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson wrote in March 1998, “There is no polite way to say this: These folks are not exactly the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.”
The folks behind the movie are presumably much smarter, but seem to be equally cursed.
“Masterminds” – shot in Asheville and Wilmington in July and August of 2014 – was originally to be released in July 2015, then was pushed to Aug. 19, 2015, then was pushed to Oct. 9, 2015, as Relativity Media’s long-spiralling-out-of-control financial woes caught up to it.
The company was granted Chapter 11 protection, immediately shelved multiple projects indefinitely (including “Masterminds”), and over the next eight months shed a mountain of debt and many employees. Relativity won its release from bankruptcy in April but is still struggling to attract new investment and still owes creditors tens of millions of dollars, Variety reports.
Plus, while all that was going on, Netflix was trying to get a court to order Relativity to hand over “Masterminds” in a move that would have allowed its customers to see the film at home far ahead of the planned theatrical release date. The streaming-video company argued that the studio was contractually obligated to deliver a minimum number of films, and that it had committed $3.7 million to “Masterminds.” A judge denied Netflix’s bid.
None of these seems like a good omen. Plus, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, the movie buff’s version of fantasy football, has the flick tracking to earn just $23 million in its first four weekends. Although no production budget for “Masterminds” has been revealed, that wouldn’t be considered boffo box office, considering the cast.
If there’s good news, though, it’s that the movie was directed and co-written by Jared Hess – who hit a home run 12 years ago with “Napoleon Dynamite.” And the source material feels like comedy gold. (Speaking of source material, this is the best: former Observer reporter Jeff Diamant’s book “Heist: The Oddball Crew Behind the $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft.”)
So is the film due for a light at the end of the tunnel? We’ll find out when the movie comes out on Sept. 30. Unless we just jinxed it, again.