Darren Aronofsky: Jim Jarmusch inspired me to keep the rights to ‘Pi’

Inspired by Jarmusch’s licensing deals, Aronofsky negotiated a clause that allowed him to return to his debut film after 25 years.

It’s been a good month for Darren Aronofsky. Just days before “The Whale” won the Oscar for Brendan Fraser and his makeup and hair team, Aronofsky’s debut feature “Pi” received an IMAX re-release from A24. Aronofsky oversaw the restoration, which used a technique known as black-and-white inversion to transfer the film to 8K without losing its trademark grain. It was a full-circle moment for the director, and it was only possible because he negotiated a clause with the film’s original distributors that returned the film to him after 25 years.

In a new interview with him Uproxx, Aronofsky reflected on the original negotiations under which he regained the rights to his debut film. Another independent film legend, Jim Jarmusch, is credited with pioneering the business model that made this possible.

“It happened because it was very much like this socialist pact between the filmmakers, where I, as the director, had as much ownership as anyone who had been working on the film for that long,” Aronofsky said. “So when we went to Sundance, I was really impressed with Jim Jarmusch, who basically always got his movies back after seven years. He financed them in places from Japan and then only allowed them for a decade. And so when we started doing the contract, I thought, no, we’ve got to get it back. We have to get it back. And I was so annoyed by it. Finally, the head of the studio said, “Okay, give it back to him in 25 years.” And it was always on my mind. So that was it.”

Looking back, Aronofsky can see how absurd it was to ask for such a filmmaker-friendly arrangement in his debut film. But now that 25 years have passed and his plan has gone off without a hitch, he seems content with his good fortune.

“I was in no position,” he said. “There is no position. We only had one company, Artisan applied for it at the time. No one else bid on it. So we didn’t really have any influence. But that was only one important aspect. There were some important points that we wanted to take care of and we kind of stuck to our guns and we were lucky that they decided to honor them.”

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