Jul 23, 2004 | 2363 days, 14 hours, 51 minutes and 13 seconds ago, Donnie Darko flopped.
"Darko," 26-year-old writer-director Richard Kelly's first film, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze, came out on October 26, 2001. In the hypersensitive aftermath of Sept. 11, the film's distributor was understandably uncertain how to sell a film whose bizarre events are set in motion by a jet engine falling from the sky. While its critical reception included a number of rave reviews, the film died on the vine, taking in only half a million dollars in its initial release in a handful of cities.
Three years later, "Donnie Darko" is being re-released in a handsome director's cut, with remastered sound and picture, 20 minutes of new footage and new visual effects. Years of midnight screenings at theaters around the country and the film's impressive success on DVD -- taking in more than $10 million to date in U.S. sales alone -- have turned what was once a confusing and oblique failure into a confusing and oblique cult hit.