Family of River Phoenix Denies Involvement with 'Dark Blood' Release

October 21, 2011
Source: Deadline

River Phoenix

Just a few days ago, we brought you news of director George Sluizer's plans to finally share with the world Dark Blood, his unreleased 1993 film that features the last remaining performance of the late River Phoenix (the young actor tragically died of a drug overdose with only 11 days left on the production of the film). Sluizer said that he planned to enlist the help of brother Joaquin Phoenix to provide ADR to substitue for River's voice and had remained in close contact with the Pheonix family, leading us to believe the release had their full support and cooperation. According to them, that doesn't seem to be the case at all.

In a statement release by a representative of the family to Deadline, the Phoenix family firmly stated:

“Despite George Sluizer’s claim that he has been communicating with River Phoenix’s family in regard to releasing River’s last film, Joaquin Phoenix and his family have not been in communication with the director nor will they participate in any way.”

As I noted in our original story, the film's producers attempted to sue River Phoenix's mother for $6 million when the film could not be finished (they cited that the actor did not declare his drug use for insurance purposes). That lawsuit was later dropped. But I'm assuming, according to the family's statement, that any bad blood on Dark Blood between the producers, the filmmaker, and the Phoenix family was not. I guess time will tell if the film will see the light of day by next year. It doesn't appear that the family will attempt to block the release but rather boycott it. Do you think Dark Blood should be released?

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I would very much like to see this. He had a lot of potential, damn shame he threw it all away.

grimjob on Oct 21, 2011


I wonder why the director George Sluizer didn't make a film since 2002.  I'm speculating  too if he didn't complete  River Phoenix's last movie because of entanglements of legal issues dealing with its production.

Fennel on Oct 21, 2011


HAHA, which actor in the right mind would declare their drug use for insurance purposes. Stupid movie studio.

Josh Taylor on Oct 21, 2011


I would like to see the film released as someone who didn't get to experience his films while he was alive. Someone mentioned to me the other day that I looked like River Phoenix and I had no idea who he was talking about. It would have been great to see Joaquin fill in for his older brother and complete his brother's final film. Just as Heath Ledger's final performances were released, the audience of today should be able to watch an incredible actor at the top of their game, gone way too soon.

Internapse on Oct 21, 2011


Yes it should be released. There is so much hardwork goes into making a movie. The actor jeopardized the whole project. The family doesn't have a say in this.

Xyz on Oct 22, 2011


Why deny his fans the privilege of seeing his last body of work?  It seems to me the family cares more about vengeance than what he would have wanted.  I don't mean to sound insensitive, I think it was crappy what they did to his family, but it's not about them, it's about his art and the fans that loved him for it.

Jules on Oct 22, 2011


Lots of people worked very hard under very trying conditions (George Sluizer) to makethis a great film  Lets see what can be done almost 20 years lateer

Hk22045 on Oct 22, 2011


His family has no say in the matter. He chose this project and it should be relesed in his memory. Let us see the mans final performance!

Quantum Artist on Oct 23, 2011


This film will still be released, even if it takes longer to get it completed. I anticipated a 2013 released, whcih would make it a 20 year gap from the time River died until the premiere of the picture. @Xyz "The actor jeopardized the whole project." River never intended things to happen the way they did, so why but the blame on him? It was those that made this deal such a problem that jeopardized it@1053acb22a766e3a2840911bd3b5e5c0:disqus  This is a project that needs to be seen. When "Parnassas" was released it was a celebration of Heath Ledger's hard work, dedication and persistence to fill his role as actor to the best of his abilities. I know that his dearest fans have cherished to work that Gilliam, Depp, Farrell and Law did to complete it. Dark Blood was 90% complete. I think it's been long due for his fans to see it! 

Marcus on Oct 24, 2011


It doesnt pay to heap the blame on River. At the time the rumor was he had been clean for quite a while. The people with him claimed that someone slipped some liquid drugs into his drink unknowingly to him.

Hk22045 on Oct 24, 2011


If I'm thinking about only myself and the viewing public, the answer would be:  "Yes, I absolutely want to see this. And so should everyone else." He did something onscreen that was entirely unique and unimitable. The combination of raw talent in performance, charm, charisma and a deeply humane brand of introspection, manifested as emotionally truthful characters that created questions for thought -- questions about ethics, familial dynamics and social problems. Sealing-off any of his performances is akin to hiding away the artwork of a master artist, artwork that might have something significant to say to humanity. And the premise of "Dark Blood" seems so relevant, right now, in our intersting time of social and environmental turbulance. I actually think it's important that it be seen. However; if we're talking about art in context of social importance, is it right that this be shown, even if that would be defying the wishes of Phoenix's family? This is a deeply personal matter, for them, not a public one. Why should they need to carry the burden of the circus that could surround this, just so we can have our "art"? I also don't believe their choice is a petty one, as mere "retaliation". As mentioned above, they've also dealt with a messy, legal aftermath associated with this picture. The producers might have thought they were just doing what businesses do -- try to retrieve as much money from a lost venture as possible. But Phoenix's mother was put through this ordeal during a period of active mourning. Is it any wonder his family doesn't trust anyone behind this, that taking part in this project would've lead to their exploitation and misrepresentation? I became a vegetarian when I was a child because I could not marry consumption of meat, with acceptance of how it was made and who suffered in order for for me to have it. So, while an argument could be made for the value of meat consumption, I thought the "price" for it was too high. I want to see this film, very much, but would I be able to do so, knowing the distress its release had caused Phoenix's family? I don't know. It is a conflict...

Guest on Oct 24, 2011


No i don't think Dark Blood will be coming out next at all

Blond1980 on Oct 29, 2011


Sounds like James Bissett III!

Suan Wake on Nov 10, 2012

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