$36 million film withdrawn as advance premiere flops

United Artists has withdrawn its expensive new 3 1/2-hour long western, "Heaven's Gate," from distribution, after it was poorly received at an invitational premiere here, Monitor film critic David Sterritt reports.

The film, budgeted at some $36 million, stars Kris Kristofferson and features a large cast including Christopher Walken and Isabelle Huppert. It was written and directed by Michael Cimino, who won the 1978 Academy Award as best director for "The Deer Hunter," a controversial drama about the Vietnam war.

"Heaven's Gate" was originally intended as a modestly budgeted drama about the settlement of Wyoming, focusing on a violent range war between ranchers and poverty-stricken immigrants. Despite soaring costs and elaborate visual effects , the film suffered from a weak screenplay, reportedly turned down by several studios before going into production for United Artists.

Mr. Cimino -- at his own request, says United Artists -- will reedit the film , presumably to a much shorter running time.

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