“Gangs of New York” Set for Christmas Release

Following months of negotiations over the running time and release date of Gangs of New York, director Martin Scorsese and Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein have reached an agreement.

The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, will now open Christmas weekend, Variety reports.

Production on the film, which Scorsese and Weinstein greenlighted three years ago, has since turned into its own mini-saga.

Gangs of New York, a stylized epic about gang warfare in pre-Civil War Manhattan, was originally slated for release last December. But according to the New York Times, Miramax pushed the film’s release date from December to July 2002 after Weinstein screened a 3-hour, 40-minute version for Miramax executives in October.

One executive who saw a screening told the paper, “It was like watching a miniseries. There was so much slosh in between the things driving the story it was impossible to get through.”

The studio was also worried that certain scenes in the film, including a scene in which corrupt firemen participate in a riot and another in which a police officer is hanged from a lamppost, would offend audiences following the events of Sept. 11.

The film has since been trimmed to 2 hours and 40 minutes.

According to the Times, Scorsese and Weinstein‘s failure to see eye to eye has caused the picture’s costs to soar to $103 million–25 percent over the original budget of $83 million. Scorsese and DiCaprio have both agreed to pay a combined $7 million to defray the cost overruns, which at that price, could be Miramax’s most expensive film to date.

It has been speculated that Miramax executives are trying to ready a 25-minute preview to show at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but according to Variety, the company has no such plans.

Although some elements in the film may still be tweaked before its release, disputes seem to have been resolved, and the final edit is now locked in.