“Brilliantly observed characters with uniformly terrific performances; this is wonderful, original stuff." So said Empire Magazine in their five star review of Alexander Payne’s critically acclaimed film, Sideways, which grossed well over $100 million globally, earned five Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Adapted Screenplay, and has since been championed as one of the greatest independent movies ever made. Given Hollywood’s recent habit of superfluous cinematic repetitions and studio executives perennially pedalling of sequels, one could be forgiven for assuming there would be an unquenchable thirst to make Sideways 2, particularly when you consider the original was made for a meagre $12 million? Not so, says Sideways’ author Rex Pickett.
Having penned a successful sequel entitled Vertical in 2010, Pickett claims the film’s director Payne is reluctant to sully his “cinematic legacy” which was further endorsed by his hugely successful George Clooney vehicle, The Descendants, by bringing his latest novel to the big screen.
“Tens of millions are on the table and no sequel. Why? The book’s been written, the screenplay’s been written,” Pickett told the drinksbusiness.com.
“I think he sees himself as a guy leaving a cinematic legacy. He thinks the sequel is selling out,'” Pickett explained in another interview to Decanter Magazine. “Al Payne read Vertical and he loved it but he said that he didn't want to do a sequel.”
While loathe to criticise the man who made him a household name, Pickett cannot understand Payne’s posturing given the readymade audience a potential follow-up film to Sideways would have at its disposal.
“There are 13m people out there who want to see this. No one in Hollywood understands why Payne is not in pre-production on Vertical - Payne has the power to make whatever movie he wants. It's a no-brainer. I mean, someone made Sex and the City 2.”
According to Pickett, without Payne at the helm a film adaptation of Vertical is a non-starter because Fox owns the rights to the film’s beautifully constructed characters which are revisited in Vertical.
“Fox Searchlight Pictures owns the film rights to Miles and Jack. If Payne woke up tomorrow morning and said he wanted to do a sequel then it would be made. If Payne doesn't endorse it, it's a non-starter for Fox.
“Payne has the power to make whatever movie he wants, within budgetary reason, for the rest of his life. I like to feel I played a small part in that,” Pickett concluded.
Sideways has sold over 150,000 copies in the English-language, and has been translated into 12 different languages, despite it being initially rejected by 15 publishers.
The movie, which made a star of Paul Giamatti, was widely credited for putting Pinot Noir back on the map, particularly in the US, where sales increased 16 per cent in the three months after Sideways’ release. Likewise, Miles’ scene-stealing criticisms of one of America's most popular varietals was said to have had an adverse effect on Merlot sales.