As with pretty much everything they've done in their career, when it comes to distributing their new documentary, Metallica are doing things their way.
Instead of selling "Some Kind of Monster" to any of the dozen or so distributors scrambling for the flick, Metallica have opted to retain ownership of the movie and strike a service deal with IFC Pictures, in which the band will pick up all the marketing costs in order to control distribution.
"Metallica deserve a lot of credit for being courageous enough not only for allowing this kind of film to be made in the first place, but to say, 'Hey, we're gonna pay for the release and make sure it's done properly,' " said Joe Berlinger, who directed the movie along with Bruce Sinofsky (see "Documentary Probes The Drama Behind Metallica's Anger").
The deal allows the group to present the movie to two different types of audiences — art-film viewers and Metallica fans. The plan is to release "Some Kind of Monster" in early July in small theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Then, when the band returns to the States to tour in the fall, the movie will be presented in almost every city on the tour around the time the band plays that market (see "Metallica Feed 'Monster' To Film Fests, Add More Anger To Tour").
When "Some Kind of Monster" hits VHS and DVD early next year, two editions are likely: a double-disc set composed of the movie and plenty of bonus footage, and a four-disc box featuring the movie plus as much as four and a half hours of edited footage that didn't make the film, Berlinger said.
So much additional footage exists because "Some Kind of Monster" went through several mutations in the course of its creation. It started as a promotional film bankrolled by Metallica's label, then it turned into six-hour reality-TV series to plug the release of St. Anger. Finally, Metallica decided to pay back their label the $2 million that had been invested in the project, take over ownership and allow Berlinger and Sinofsky to create an unflinching, warts-and-all theatrical release.
There's also a good possibility that a soundtrack will accompany the DVD release, Berlinger said, adding that it would likely feature songs recorded during sessions that were left off St. Anger.
Around the same time as "Some Kind of Monster" is hitting theaters, Berlinger, Sinofsky and Metallica frontman James Hetfield will cross paths in a another project, the anthology "Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three," due in October from Arsenal Pulp Press. Hetfield will provide reproductions of original lyrics, and the filmmakers will write the introduction for the collection, which will also feature contributions by horror authors Clive Barker and Peter Straub as well as 18 other essays and stories.
"There's a very deep connection between us, West Memphis Three and Metallica," Berlinger said. " 'Some Kind of Monster' never would have been made if it wasn't for [our movie about the West Memphis Three murders,] 'Paradise Lost,' because that's how we all got to know each other. We solicited them for the music, and they were gracious enough to give it to us for both movies."
Berlinger added that the timing for the book is significant because it's a critical year for Damien Echols, who's serving time in prison for murders in West Memphis, Arkansas, that he may not have committed.
"His final appeal by the state was turned down, so he has one shot at a federal hearing and that's all coming down this year," Berlinger said. "So naturally we all wanted to participate in the book."