Study Guide

The English Patient Production Studio

Production Studio

The English Patient is a Saul Zaentz Production

If you wrote a book and wanted to see the best possible film version of your story on the big screen, Saul Zaentz (1921—2014) was your guy. He produced the film adaptations of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), from Ken Kesey's novel; Amadeus (1984) from the play by Peter Shaffer; The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) from Milan Kundera's novel; and The English Patient (1996) from the novel by Michael Ondaatje. (Source)

Zaentz purchased the rights to The English Patient in 1992, even though the book was so complicated that some considered it un-filmable. Zaentz resisted the big studio's push to cast Demi Moore in the role of Katharine Clifton. (At least they didn't want Ashton Kutcher for Caravaggio, or Bruce Willis for Almásy.) (Source)

And, a few years later, The English Patient proved a huge success thanks to the instincts of Zaentz and the film's director and screenwriter, Anthony Minghella. That year, Zaentz was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, an award for "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production."

Zaentz may have won the gold trophy, but he didn't feel he was getting paid for it. Zaentz sued Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein (the head of the film's distributor, Miramax), alleging he wasn't paid his fair percentage of the profits. Zaentz died in 2014 before he case came to trial. That's nowhere near as tragic as Katharine's fate in the film… but it's still sad. (Source)

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