Boy Erased director Joel Edgerton wishes he could erase his film’s release strategy.
Edgerton adapted the 2018 movie, which is about a teenager’s harrowing experience at a gay conversion camp, from Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name. He also starred as head of the Christian group claiming to “cure” homosexuals.
Despite solid reviews and a buzzy launch on the fall festival circuit, Boy Erased only earned $11.8 million at the box office, barely recouping its $11 million budget.
Promoting the upcoming Netflix release of The King, his new film with Timothée Chalamet, Edgerton tells IndieWire he regrets choosing a traditional rollout deal with Focus Features over what he calls “a streaming situation.”
“We had a really interesting debate about which way to go,” Edgerton recalls. “Focus had this incredible track record with putting out these LGBTQ films like Brokeback and Milk, so I felt we were in the right hands. We wanted to create a face-to-face scenario where we’d have face time with audiences and have Q&As and generate discussions. To me, it felt like that was the right way to go.”
Edgerton now admits Boy Erased should have been released on Netflix. “The moment you put something on a streaming platform, everybody in every household in all these countries can see it at the exact same time,” he said. “You don’t get that chatter—and this was sad for me—of, ‘When is this film coming to my country?’ or, ‘I have to drive five hours to see it,’ or, ‘I just can’t afford the time and money.'”
“I realized, ‘OK, that’s a good enough reason to put a movie as soon as you can on Netflix, especially with Boy Erased. The pride that everybody felt with that film about the ability to help start conversations within families, change points of views, make them feel differently in their lives, made me wish we could’ve just dropped it everywhere rather than holding onto it.”
Lucas Hedges stars in Boy Erased as Jared, the lead character based on Conley. The cast also includes Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Théodore Pellerin, Troye Sivan, Cherry Jones, Michael “Flea” Balzary, Xavier Dolan, and Joe Alwyn.
“The film satisfies the dramatic and salacious stuff that interested me, but it also had an emotional resonance to it that I felt didn’t just make it a dark and nihilistic story,” Edgerton told EW last year. “My approach and treatment of this story was that there were no villains, that everyone thought they were doing the right thing.”