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Jay and Mark Duplass Graduate to the Studio System With ‘Cyrus’

30 Nov, 2010 By: Billy Gil

Jay and Mark Duplass

Jay and Mark Duplass spent years paying their dues in the indie world before making their way into the mainstream with Fox Searchlight’s Cyrus, coming to DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray Disc ($39.99) Dec. 14.

The brothers recently told KCRW’s The Business that each time they reached a benchmark, such as having a short film or feature screened at Sundance, they felt the need to improve. Cyrus represents that next step, as the film was their first to feature a bigger budget (about $7 million) and wide distribution (the film went on to make about $7.5 million at the U.S. box office and more than $9.5 million worldwide).

Starring John C. Reilly, the film tells the story of a man steeped in a funk years after his wife (Catherine Keener) has left him. At her urging, he slaps himself back into reality and finds mutual attraction with a single mother (Marisa Tomei) who has baggage of her own — a 21-year-old man-child (Jonah Hill) that won’t leave her side without a fight.

The film had a basic script written by the brothers, who also co-directed, but allowed the actors to improvise lines, which were then pieced together into the final product. Essentially, the Duplass brothers maintained their mumblecore roots (a style of filmmaking featuring naturalistic actors improvising lines, as shown in their previous films, The Puffy Chair and Baghead) while working within the studio system, altering minor details when necessary and working with big-name actors.

“What we learned on this movie is we can make the kind of movies we want to make in the studio system,” Jay Duplass said. “From our perspective, it’s like, we’re just trying to make the next best movie. We wouldn’t necessarily tailor the content for studio versus indie.”

The DVD and Blu-ray releases include two alternate scenes.

“There’s definitely lots and lots of extra material,” Jay Duplass said. “We’re trying lots of different things until the lightning strikes, but sometimes we’ll do a scene two ways. … This movie could have been cut 20 different ways.”

Mark Duplass added they’d include scenes that wouldn’t change the story, but rather are different iterations of the same themes, perhaps funnier or darker.

“For us there really is no difference in the comedy and drama and where they’re rooted,” Mark said. “What Jay and I are trying to do is find very truthful moments on the set that ring true to us.”

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