Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is one of a few relatively high-profile black-and-white films to have been released over the past couple of years, a small group that also includes such films as Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha and recent Best Picture winner The Artist. While I don’t think that necessarily indicates any sort of definable trend, it is proof that some directors are still fighting for monochrome visuals at at time when it is almost commercial suicide to attempt it. Frank Darabont wanted to shoot his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist in black-and-white back in 2007, but wasn’t able to convince the studio to do it at the time. He eventually released a black-and-white version on the DVD and Blu-ray, however. Now it looks like Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is about to make the opposite transition from black-and-white to colour… the question is, does Alexander Payne approve?
Cable TV channel Epix will start airing and streaming Nebraska this coming weekend with the premiere set for Sunday Aug. 10th at 8 pm. However, on their website they are also promoting a second special event immediately afterward which is the world premiere of the full colour version of the film at 10 pm. It seems like it will be available for a limited time only.
Although Nebraska was shot specifically with black-and-white in mind, it seems that distributor Paramount Vantage pressured Alexander Payne into giving them a colour version of the film for certain international markets and to satisfy TV deals where they could air movies in colour only. His contract with Paramount guaranteed that all theatrical, DVD and Blu-ray releases would be black-and-white, but apparently Epix presents a bit of a loophole. Clearly he doesn’t want anyone to see this version of the film, but it’s hard not be a little bit curious. Are you interested in seeing the colour version of Nebraska or is this just a dick move by Epix?